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Lower almond acreage could be trend, says ABC president
almonds
Non-bearing almond acres — new plantings going back to 2020 but not yet bearing almonds — dropped to 294,000 acres from 353,000 acres in 2021 (Journal file photo).

California’s almond acreage decreased for the first time in more than a quarter century, according to a new report to the Almond Board of California.

In a report from Land IQ — a Sacramento-based agricultural and environmental scientific research and consulting firm — total standing acreage as of Aug. 31 was estimated at 1.64 million acres, compared with 1.66 million acres at the same time in 2021. Bearing acres — orchards producing almonds and planted in 2019 or earlier — increased slightly to 1.34 million from 1.31 million last year. However, non-bearing acres — new plantings going back to 2020 but not yet bearing almonds — dropped to 294,000 acres from 353,000 acres in 2021.

“From all the talk we’ve been hearing this past year, more and more ranchers are pulling out their orchards because of the drought,” said Eric Gemperle, co-owner of Gemperle Orchards on Faith Home Road. “Anywhere south of here gets worse and worse when it comes to water. I’m not surprised that’s the case.”

In addition, the Land IQ 2022 Standing Acreage and Removed Acreage Final Estimate said approximately 30,000 acres are either classified as stressed or abandoned. They were included in the standing acreage total because the orchards “may have the ability to recover,” Land IQ said.

Removed orchards contributed to the drop in total acreage and continued a trend from 2021. Total orchard acreage removed was about 60,400 acres as of Aug. 31 this year compared with 56,900 removed acres in 2021.

“Land IQ’s report may indicate a possible trend towards lower California almond acreage in the year ahead,” said Richard Waycott, ABC president and CEO. “This acreage estimate was based on data collected through Aug. 31, so it does not reflect any additional removals that may have occurred as the harvest and post-harvest seasons progressed this fall. Those data will be incorporated in the next acreage estimate to be published in April 2023.”

The estimate comes from multiple lines of evidence, including extensive examinations on the ground and advanced remote sensing analytics. Land IQ said the 2022 standing acreage estimate is 98.8 percent accurate.

Land IQ’s Final Acreage Estimate in November, along with USDA-NASS’s April Acreage Report, May’s Subjective Estimate and the Objective Report in July are all commissioned by ABC to provide statistical transparency and a robust picture of California almonds to industry stakeholders around the world.

In 2018, ABC first commissioned Land IQ to develop a comprehensive, living map of California almonds. The map is the result of more than a decade of research.