Home   >   NEWS & VIEWS   >   News

  • Expect a good crop, but lower walnut prices may persist

    Jul 25th, 2016

    While California walnuts are expected to have one of the biggest years in terms of production, farmers have been experiencing a drop in value due to a variety of reasons.Still, some growers' hopes remain high."Warm weather might contribute to some loss this year, but this year's yield is going to be huge," said Chris Silva, president and owner of California Valley Nut Company in Yuba City. "It's going to be the biggest crop to date."Growers experienced a drop in value for the commodity two years ago. China was a big importer of the commodity, but a recession forced the country to focus on its domestic production. An overproduction of the crop made for too much of a supply and not enough demand. And the strong dollar made it more difficult in different countries around the world to export at the cost they once did.

    Those are just a few of the reasons that contributed to the drop in value, according to people in the industry.Stephen Scheer, agricultural commissioner for Yuba County, said numbers from 2015 lead him to anticipate another year of status quo."For last year, the acreage is slowly coming up, but the commodity price is down," Scheer said. "I expect the trend to stay the same. The feeling I'm getting is the price is going to stay stagnant."Although prices have been down, growers have adjusted, and many have been able to still make a profit."The days of $2.30 per pound have slowed down or gone away," Silva said. "We are going to level off at a decent price now, but overall it will be sustainable."Chandler walnuts, one of the most popular varieties, typically sells for the highest price. Silva said the market was paying around $1.12 to $1.18 per pound last year. This year, he expects it to drop slightly to about 90 cents to $1 per pound when harvest comes around this fall."But things can change, variables change," Silva said. "Once we get into the harvest and get the walnuts in the warehouse, that will determine where the price is now. But right now it looks like it will be down from last year."Gregory Hinton, agricultural commissioner for Colusa County, said the commodity's value, while it's down, shouldn't be too alarming because this is something that happens across the board in agriculture."It goes in cycles; but that's farming," Hinton said. "They don't gamble, but they own a farm."