NASS Predicts Another Record-Breaking Almond Crop

2019 Crop Predicted to be 2.50 Billion Pounds

News Release

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 NASS 2019 California Almond Subjective Forecast issued 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 the 2018 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)

Richard Waycott, Almond Board President, and CEO

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.

1 USDA-NASS. 2019 California Almond Subjective Forecast. May 2019.

2 USDA-NASS. 2018 California Almond Acreage Report. April 2019. 

Almond Board of California Election Under Way

Almond Industry Is Urged to Vote for Grower Positions on Almond Board of California

News Release

Voting began Jan. 31 to select two independent grower member and alternate positions and one independent handler member and alternate position on the Almond Board of California (ABC) Board of Directors. These positions will serve terms beginning on March 1.

Candidates for the independent grower position are:

 

Position One, Member (One-year term):

Brad Klump, Escalon (petitioner)

 

Position One, Alternate:

Mike Mason, Wasco (petitioner)

Position Two, Member (Three-year term):

Brian Wahlbrink, Waterford (incumbent)

Dave DeFrank, Fresno (petitioner)

 

Position Two, Alternate:

Bill Harp, Bakersfield (incumbent)

Candidates for the independent handler positions are:

 

Position Three, Member (One-year term):

Micah Zeff, Modesto (incumbent)

Position Three, Alternate:

Jonathan Hoff, Denair (petitioner)

Ballots and instructions have been mailed to all independent growers whose names are on file with ABC. The Almond Board must receive ballots by Feb. 16, for them to be counted. If any independent grower or handler does not receive a ballot, one may be obtained by contacting Bunnie Ibrahim, senior analyst, Government Affairs, ABC, at (209) 343-3228.

As a governing body for the industry, the ABC Board of Directors is composed of five handler and five grower representatives who set policy and recommend budgets in several major areas, including production research, public relations and advertising, nutrition research, statistical reporting, quality control, and food safety.

Hershey’s Chocolate Loves California Almonds

Almonds and Chocolate: The Perfect Duo

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

You can find a piece of Hershey’s Chocolate with almonds almost anywhere. The delicious pairing makes for the perfect treat! Karen Ocamb, a supply quality auditor for Hershey’s, is working to make sure the relationship between the almond industry and her company remains sustainable and beneficial.

After visiting the Almond Board Conference in Sacramento, Ocamb reported the good things the board is doing to make the partnership a success.

“My perspective of the Almond Board is a really good, beneficial kind of facility that takes the almonds and gives us a better perspective of what should be done out there,” she explained.

Ocamb also knows the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship between Hershey’s and the almond industry, particularly on the consumer’s behalf. Her goal is to ensure that the communication between the two stay open, in order to keep improving the quality of product for the customer.

“Almonds are a great source of protein, so for the company, blending the chocolate and the almonds together is an essential piece of giving something to the consumer that is beneficial to them, but also sweet,” she said.

Almond Alliance Helps Growers with Advocacy

Almond Alliance Lent a Hand on Tariff Relief

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Like many agricultural sectors, almond growers have also been affected by recent tariff wars. However, almond growers have a true friend in the Modesto-based Almond Alliance.

“We are definitely an advocacy organization, that is the core of what we do,” said Elaine Trevino, president of the Almond Alliance.

Elaine Trevino

“The Almond Alliance educates our legislators, their department officials and cabinet about issues that are important to the almond industry. It is very critical that our elected officials, specifically the urban [ones] that are not familiar with agriculture, understand agriculture. They need to understand … the inputs and the natural resources needed for agriculture, and also understand the best practices that we put into place to be good corporate and small businesses,” Trevino said.

“Obviously with almonds, you have hulls and shells and the biomass that comes with almonds, and so we focus on all aspects of that,” she explained.

Almond growers are being affected by tariffs increases into China. Beginning on April 2nd, the first 232 retaliatory tariffs was seen that affected China. Since then, our turkey has also been affected by the tariffs.

The almond industry exports 67 percent of its production to more than 100 countries.

“Looking at export markets and how they impact the industry is critical. Secretary Purdue came out with the mitigation package,” Trevino said.

The almond industry fought very hard to be included in direct payments. While many say it’s just three cents a pound, the allocation to almonds was $63.3 million.

“It’s our intention that the alliance fight for every penny of that goes back to the growers, and if they are not eligible for the direct payments, then we’ll make sure that they receive it through market promotion that will help move their product and hopefully get those prices back up if they haven’t been affected,” Trevino said.

Almond Export Diversification Helps During Tariff War

Overseas Markets are Vast for Almond Industry

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Diversification is a strength, Richard Waycott, president of the Almond Board of California, told California Ag Today recently. The Almond Board of California is a nonprofit organization that administers a grower enacted federal marketing order under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When it comes to any losses due to a tariff war in China, the almonds can be redirected to other countries.

“It’s fortunate to be as diversified as we are. Always a strength of this industry is the diversification of our overseas markets,” Waycott said. “I think whatever volume we ultimately do lose—if we do lose volume to China—can be redirected and absorbed by other markets.”

The USDA has opened up a direct payment program to the almond industry if growers were to lose any money in a tariff war.

As those programs were announced, by far the largest piece of the pie, $6 billion, initially was directed to the soybean and corn growers and livestock, while the specialty crops were completely left out of it.

“We got together with the Almond Alliance of California and some of our industry members made a very concerted effort while there was still time to do so before the rules around these programs and those that got to participate were set in stone and were able to convince the powers that be … to open up to the direct payment program to almonds, and the sweet cherry industry did the same,” Waycott explained

Waycott also commented on the epic frost that hit almonds this past spring. And he is not sure of the impact on the crop.

“We realized that we don’t understand the impact of frost on almonds all that well because we saw one side of the street there was quite a bit of damage, while on the other side there was no damage. So I think there’s mother nature at work here that, you know, we don’t necessarily completely understand,” Waycott said.

Irrigation Improvement Continuum Part of Almond Board’s CASP

California Almond Sustainability Program Offers Big Help to Growers

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The Almond Board of California has an Irrigation Improvement Continuum, which is part of the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP). California Ag Today recently spoke with Spencer Cooper, senior manager of irrigation and water efficiency with the Almond Board of California, about the program.

CASP
Spencer Cooper, Almond Board

The Irrigation Improvement module allows growers to move through from the most basic to the most advanced.

“We’re key on growers understanding the fundamentals and foundation of irrigation management practices,” Cooper said. “The more we can get out there with growers understanding the basics, the more we can advance and continue to be progressive and leaders in the industry.”

Cooper said if growers sign up for CASP at SustainableAlmondGrowing.org and complete all nine modules, growers will receive a copy of the Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum, a 154-page of soup to nuts on irrigation management that has taken more then 40 years of research that almond growers have funded.

Navel Orangeworm Pressure Could Be Increasing in Almonds

Lack of Good Sanitation Leads to High Navel Orangeworm Numbers

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

It could be another heavy year for Navel Orangeworm (NOW). David Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Kern County and entomologist told California Ag Today that sanitation in almond orchards over the winter was not as good as it could have been.

“Everything right now is about trying to prevent a repeat from last year, and it is a little tricky so we know that sanitation wasn’t as good this winter as it generally should be,” he said. “The best time to shake NOW mummy nuts from an almond tree is after a rain when the nuts are heavier.”

David Haviland on Pyrethroid Review
David Haviland

However, rains came late this season, and by the time the rains left, there was only a few weeks before spring.

“This left a very short window to get any shaking done, and some people did an excellent job during that window to sanitize and other people just couldn’t get around all their acreage,” Haviland said. “On average across the whole industry, sanitation was not up to where it should have been, and it gave growers a difficult start to the season.”

NOW could be early this year, but the crop is on time.

“With all of this prolonged hot temperatures, particularly high night-time temperatures, the trees are shutting down a little bit at night compared to what they would do if the nighttime temperatures were cooler,” Haviland explained.

As a result, harvest is not coming as quickly as people would like.

“The problem is that the longer the nuts are in the orchard, the greater chance there will be NOW damage,” he said.

Timely crop protection sprays are recommended.

Almond Industry is Strong at 1.3 Million Acres

Almond Industry’s Vision is Continued Strength

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The vision and the overall business model of the almond industry in California are looking very strong. Richard Waycott, president and CEO of the Almond Board of California, expanded on these strengths in a recent interview with California Ag Today.

“One way that the almond industry has achieved success is the fact that we are very resource rich, and the Almond Board of California is blessed by very strong support financially and strategically for the industry,” Waycott said.

Richard Waycott, Almond Board
Richard Waycott, Almond Board President and CEO

“We have the ability to work on very serious projects and programs for California agriculture and because of our size, just over 1.3 million acres, we can have a tremendous impact on the ecology of the state, on environmental practices, on ag practices that can then obviously be disseminated and taken advantage of by other California agriculture,”  Waycott explained.

Waycott said the almond industry’s role is to produce this wonderful food product for human consumption.

“The hulls and shells [are used] for other purposes, and we’re working very hard on that to determine new applications for those co-products, but then again to use the financial and the talent and treasurer of the industry and the size of the industry to innovate more rapidly and provide for constructive change,” Waycott explained.

Excellent business practices is a part of the Almond Board of California’s mission.

“We do see almonds as being a crop that should be grown in California, and it’s producing a product that should be consumed more by humans,” Waycott said. “The industry strives to farm more sustainably in the future than we do today and to provide for more automation in the industry, better grow our practices is what our mission is, and we’re very much on a road to executing that in a very responsible, in an innovative way.”

Elaine Trevino to Head Almond Alliance of California

Trevino Chosen After Big Search

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) has named Elaine Trevino as its new President and CEO. Trevino will provide oversight of the organization’s operations, communications, government relations and overall advocacy efforts on behalf of California’s almond industry.

In addition, she will manage the organization’s various industry strategic partnerships, initiatives and memberships across the state of California. Based in Modesto, Trevino will report directly to Brad Craven, Chairman of the Almond Alliance of California, and general manager of Superior Almond Hulling of Cantua Creek, CA.

“We are excited to have Elaine be part of our team,” Craven said in a news release. “She brings a wealth of experience, statewide relationships, extensive community outreach, public policy, government affairs and strategic partnerships. We look forward to having her contribute to the continued advocacy efforts of California’s almond industry. In looking for a new president of the Almond Alliance, we knew that the almond industry has enjoyed a lot of success, making this position attractive to a large pool of candidates. In order to enjoy continued success, our organization will also need to take on any challenges or threats head-on, with integrity and confidence. This is what Elaine brings to the Almond Alliance.”

Most recently, Trevino was President of California Strategic Solutions, a consulting company focused in business development, community outreach and delivering comprehensive strategies for complex issues. Trevino has diverse experience in both the public and private sectors in the areas of agriculture, transportation, community development and technology. She is a recognized leader in the Central Valley and understands the importance of strong bi-partisan relationships. Equally important, Elaine understands the value of communication and outreach to all segments of the California almond community.

Chairman Craven praised Interim President Andrea York for her efforts over the past few months.

“The board deeply appreciates Andrea stepping up from her busy role as Government Affairs Manager and taking on the additional responsibilities as Interim President,” he said. “We look forward to Andrea working closely with Elaine on the broad range of issues vital to the almond community.”

Band Canker Affecting Younger Almonds

Almond Band Canker Becoming a Big Problem

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Brent Holtz is a UC cooperative extension Pomology Farm Advisor for San Joaquin County. He recently told California Ag Today about how the fungus band canker on almonds is becoming more prevalent in the San Joaquin Valley.

“I’ve seen a lot more band canker, which is caused by a pathogenic fungus, Botryosphaeria dothidea, and we’re seeing it on young orchards, especially in in San Joaquin county,” said Holtz.  “We’ve seen that a lot out in the delta and we’ve seen it in eastern San Joaquin county where the soils tend to be a little heavier, maybe old dairy ground and richer and we don’t really know why.”

“We’re seeing so much more, but it’s a fungus that infects usually the trunk or the main scaffolds, and we call it band canker because sap balls will come out at the site of the infection and create a band that circles around the trunk or the scaffold,” Holtz explained. “That’s why we call it band canker.”

It’s starting to show up in the orchards that have not been shaken yet, as a wound needs to happen before the infection sets in.

“We think it’s showing up in a lot of orchards before we start shaking the trees and usually in most cankers, we would have to have a wound that would have to happen first before the infection would take place either through a wound or a wound from shaking the tree,” Holtz said.

“Some of these orchards with symptoms tend to be trees that are growing very vigorously, and we suspect maybe that they’re growing so fast, growth cracks are created that the fungus may have got in and caused the infection.”

Trees with band canker on the trunk may not survive. And band cankered scaffolds have to be removed, which affects the tree’s architecture and will reduce yields.

There is evidence that micro sprinklers hitting the trunk could also increase the start of an infection.

“It seems to be showing up a little higher concentration where it was on a micro sprinkler irrigation system, where the sprinkler was actually hitting the trunk,” Holtz said. “We don’t seem to see it as much in orchards with a drip irrigation, so we are advising growers to consider drip or to put a splitter in their micro sprinklers so it can avoid wetting the trunk repeatedly with each irrigation.”