A Whole Lot of Almond Shaking is Going On Throughout California
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor
It’s a busy time of year for the almond industry as harvest is going strong. It starts in Kern county and moves all the way north or Chico. It will take nearly two months to get across 1.4 million acres, and it’s going to be about a 2.2 billion pound crop, which is down 3.5% from 2018 where the production was about 2.28 billion pounds. It was less than ideal weather conditions in the spring, which caused us dip in production.
However California remains the best place in the world to grow almonds. It’s all about the Mediterranean climate in California— long hot summers with the rain and cold in the winter, ideal for almond trees.
Navel Orangeworm is a critical pest in almonds, pistachios and in a lesser way for walnuts. And they continue to be a significant pest during almond harvest season as the adult moths can lay eggs, which can pupate later in almonds turning them off-grade. Once shaking is done and the almonds are picked up out of the field, it’s important to get that crop out of the orchard as soon as possible to minimize navel orange worm infestation.
Almonds are the first tree nut to be harvested. Later on, pistachios will start, following that we’ll be walnuts.
For the second year in a row, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is predicting a record California almond crop for the upcoming production year. According to the NASS2019 California Almond Subjective Forecastissued recently, California almond orchards are expected to produce 2.50 billion pounds of nuts this year, up 8.69% from last year’s 2.30 billion-pound crop. (1)
This forecast comes just weeks after NASS released the2018 California Almond Acreage Report,which estimated total almond acres for 2018 were up 2% from 2017 at 1.39 million acres. Bearing acres—orchards mature enough to produce a crop—were reported at 1.09 million acres, up 6% from the previous year. Looking ahead, NASS reported preliminary bearing acreage for 2019 at 1.17 million acres, up 7.3% from 2018. (2)
The first of two reports for the upcoming crop, the Subjective Forecast is based on opinions obtained from randomly selected almond growers located throughout the state via a phone survey conducted in April and May. NASS asked growers to indicate their total almond yield per acre from last year and expected yield for the current year based on field observations. The sample of growers interviewed is grouped by size of operation, and different individuals are interviewed each year, allowing all growers to be represented. NASS then combines the yield estimates obtained from each grower and extrapolates the information to arrive at the numbers reported in the Subjective Forecast.
While the Subjective Forecast provides early estimates of the upcoming crop after it is set, NASS’s 2019 California Almond Objective Report will provide a more precise estimate as it uses a more statistically rigorous methodology to determine yield. The report’s data is based on actual almond counts and measurements gathered from over 850 orchards throughout the state and includes the weight, size, and grade of the average almond sample broken down by both growing district and variety.
The California Almond Objective Report will be released on July 3 at 11:50 a.m. PDT. NASS conducts the Objective Report—the Subjective Forecast and the Acreage Report—in order to provide the California almond industry with the data needed to make informed business decisions.
1USDA-NASS. 2019 California Almond Subjective Forecast. May 2019.
2USDA-NASS. 2018 California Almond Acreage Report. April 2019.
Dust management is an issue that almond growers and their surrounding neighbors face annually. With almond harvest fast approaching, dust control is crucial to keeping our air clean. Jesse Guadian with D & J Farm Management of Kern County knows first hand the steps it takes to cut down on dust.
“We’re in the San Joaquin Valley, where dust is a problem, especially if you’re close to schools and homes,” Guadian said.
Reducing air particles is a year-round job for D & J Farm Management, thinking about excess plant material in the air before weeds even begin to present an issue. This allows for fewer passes through the field when it comes time to mow, ultimately reducing the amount of decomposed plant content in the air.
“We’re reducing all that plant material that stays on the surface … to try to eliminate some of that dust,” Guadian said.