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  • Almond, walnut prices fall

    Feb 1st, 2016

    “The almond market is falling,” said Dave Phippen, partner in Travaille & Phippen. “We have been sailing high for the last few years. We are experiencing a correction in the market.”Almond growers have watched prices surge to nearly $4 per pound in 2014 and 2015. Now they’re dropping back to $3 per pound.“It’s more than a blip,” said Phippen. “We expected it. Prices from last July were at all-time high for the industry. Some thought it might last a little longer. It will change the equation for farm survivability. Those that are heavily leveraged are going to face some problems.”Phippen said that growers could see falling prices for a while.“Last time we saw this kind of correction, it took more than a year to get it moving in other direction,” said Phippen.Prices have leveled out over the winter, and they are higher than the average price over the past decade.

    The state’s 2014-15 harvest produced 1.86 billion pounds of almonds, according to the California Almond Board’s Annual crop report. The challenge in the upcoming season will be keeping up that production level.Almonds aren’t the only Central Valley nut that has seen recent price pressures. The price of walnuts, long a staple of farming in the Valley, makes a big impact on the agricultural community.Growers have seen processors and shippers cut target prices for the export market by one-third or more. Prices for some varieties of walnuts have dropped from $2.20 per pound a year ago to $1.50 or less.“We had a 140,000 tons of walnuts on the market, so the market fell,” said Dennis Balint, executive director of the California Walnut Board and CEO of the Walnut Commission. “Ultimately, prices will seek some sort of equilibrium between the handler and the grower.”San Joaquin County tops the state in walnut production at 102,000 tons. Stanislaus County was fourth at 57,000 tons. California as a whole accounts for 99.9 percent of the walnuts grown in the United States.