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  • US (CA): Increased almond acreage needed to support demand

    May 12th, 2015

    California almond production is expected to be slightly below last year's production, according to this year's subjective almond forecast released last week. Acreage continues to grow to keep up with increased demand, with estimates for 2014's acreage at over 1 million.


    Crop similar to last year's

    The subjective production forecast puts this year's almond production at 1.85 billion pounds, which, if accurate, would mean 2015's crop will be 1 percent lighter than 2014's crop of 1.87 billion pounds. But, as with last year's crop, actual production could be less than the year's subjective forecast, especially with an earlier bloom and water shortages.“Historically, it doesn't seem like the subjective forecast doesn't underestimate very often,” said Brian Wright of Del Mar Farms. “The subjective is a good estimate, but it's tough to come to a figure. We have the drought against us, so we don't know how some orchards are going to take water restrictions.”

    Early bloom, early harvest

    This year's bloom came quickly and was compacted, which means some of the trees might not have received sufficient chilling hours. Along with an early bloom, this year's harvest is expected to come early.“It seems like this year's harvest could arrive earlier than expected, around late-July,” said Wright. “That's about a week to 10 days earlier than last year's harvest. We had a pretty warm winter and pretty warm weather the last few weeks, so that brought on trees quicker than in the past.”

    More acreage needed to meet demand

    Demand has continued to grow over the last several years, especially abroad. Coupled with strong demand at home, California growers, which account for over 80 percent of the world's total almond production, have to increase their acreage to keep up. Last year's acreage is estimated at 1.02 million acres, which is a five percent increase over the previous year's acreage.“Almond trees last about 20 to 25 years, so the state's growers need to plant about five percent of current acreage every year just to keep up the current acreage,” said Wright. “With orchards getting older and demand increasing, we need more acreage to support demand.”