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  • US (CA): Uneven bloom could lead to less almond production

    Apr 8th, 2015

    Despite a growing season with weather very conducive to a good bloom, this year's almond crop could suffer from the early start it got.

    “When you have an early bloom, you have uneven and less cross-pollination between varieties,” explained Anthony Mello, CEO of Almond Ace, a grower and processor of almonds based in the San Joaquin Valley. “The weather during bloom was beautiful, so everyone thought it would be fine. But an uneven and rough bloom is usually not a good indication, and I think the crop will be down this year.” California growers, who are responsible for over 80 percent of the world's almond production, grew a crop last year that reached about 1.8 billion pounds. Early signs this season point to a crop that could be closer to 1.6 billion pounds.Yesterday's storms in the San Joaquin Valley offered some hope to growers who have acutely felt the effects of a prolonged drought. But early hope about more water turned to worry as rain turned to hail in some parts of the Central Valley.

    “We don't yet know the impact of these hail storms,” said Mello, “but the bullishness of having rain is gone.” Growers were looking forward to this week's rains because conditions have been so dry. Many districts have had little to none of the water allocation they usually receive, and those lucky enough to have access to it are relying on well water. If current conditions continue, it's likely that some of the orchards that were producing almonds last season won't do so this time around. That will further depress this year's production, which won't allow growers to take full advantage of the increasing demand for almonds at home and abroad. But, while a smaller crop is likely, Mello is still hopeful about the future.“In the short term, we may or we may not be able to meet all demand because we're seeing significant growth in demand, and as demand continues to grow, supplies out of California are shrinking,” said Mello. “I'm an optimist in the long term, but there are limiting factors to how much crop we'll have.”