In spite of Weather Challenges, Almond Production Increases

Almond Tree

California almond growers expect to shake a record 2.50 billion pounds from their trees this year according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. This initial subjective forecast was sourced from a survey of growers who were asked to indicate their expected yields.

Richard Waycott, president and CEO of Almond Board of California said in a phone interview that the combination of a significant increase in bearing acreage plus higher yields per acre could produce an almond crop that is 8.69 percent above 2018’s 2.30 billion pound crop. Yields per acre were forecast up 50 pounds over last year. National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) is also reporting preliminary bearing acres for 2019 at 1.17 million acres, up 7.3 percent from last year.

“We haven’t seen production like this in a while,” Waycott said. Even though bearing acres continue to increase across the state, yields have varied. During the drought years, yields were somewhat stagnant. Last year, frost during pollination affected almond yields in some areas.

Although this year’s crop experienced some significant rainfall during bloom, it appears that the extended bloom period allowed for successful pollination it also allowed for more overlap between blooming varieties. Cooler temperatures helped minimize disease and pest pressure, but there have been reports of bacterial blast and jacket rot in some growing areas.

Looking ahead, Waycott said that as more older orchards are pushed, they are being replaced with higher density plantings, many with newer varieties which could further boost per acre yields.

California almond growers, Waycott said, still face serious challenges with water use, pest management and biomass removal, but the board’s ambitious goals give the industry focus and a timelineAlmonds Powerpoint slide for improvement.

The 2019 NASS objective report, due on July 3, will give a more precise estimate of the crop size based on actual almond counts and measurements gathered in 850 orchards throughout the state. The report gives weights, sizes and grades of the average almond samples by both variety and growing region.

Cecilia Parsons
Associate Editor at JCS Marketing, Inc.

Cecilia Parsons has spent the past 30 years covering agriculture in California for a variety of newspapers, magazines and organizations. During that time she has been fortunate to witness some of the important events that have shaped this diverse industry and worked hard to examine and explain these events for readers.
When Cecilia first moved to the San Joaquin Valley in 1976, her first journalism job was at a small daily newspaper where she covered “farm news.” From there she branched out to writing for a dairy magazine and a regional weekly agriculture publication.
Cecilia is part of a farming family from the rural community of Ducor where she also raises purebred sheep and is attempting to master versatility ranch horse riding.