Back in a chilly early February it would have been hard to believe this year’s almond harvest could possibly set a record, let alone increase. At the time many growers were concerned that freezing temperatures and rain could damage the fragile crop and ruin the pollination process.
But a few months of warm weather has worked wonders for a region suffering under the weight of troubling economic times. The USDA is predicting a six percent almond harvest production increase over 2010 and a record 1.75 billion pounds of almonds.
In addition, the 2010 Almond Acreage Report, released by the USDA last Thursday, reported a two-percent growth in overall almond acreage from 810,000 acres in 2009 to 825,000 in 2010.
Of the total acreage for 2010, 740,000 were bearing, which is expected to increase by 10,000 this year to 750,000.
Stanislaus, along with Merced, Fresno and Kern, were the leading counties in almond acreage and the four counties combined for 64 percent of the total bearing acreage.
Nonpareil continued to be the leading variety, followed by Butte, Carmel and Monterey. Padre and Aldrich varieties showed significant acreage increases.
“I think this is a strong growth in the almond industry, it’s a good sign and the industry has been able to handle the growth, it’s a manageable growth. There could definitely be more jobs as a result of increased acreage,” said Wayne Zipser, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau executive director. “Last year California growers produced 1.6 pounds, and I would expect that to grow to 1.7 billion this year. We could even flirt with 2 billion pounds and we will export 70 percent of that.”
Over the past decade growers have tripled their gross income to an estimated $2.69 billion in 2011.
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