Generic Promotion of US Pistachios is Powerful

New Analysis Points to the Power of US Pistachio Industry’s Generic Program

American Pistachio Growers’ (APG) efforts to reduce or eliminate trade barriers in several key overseas markets have been a significant boon to pistachio exports and to growers’ bottom-line. A new study, “An Analysis of the Effects of the American Pistachio Growers’ Program to Reduce/Eliminate Tariffs on U.S. Pistachios,” has quantified, for the first time, the direct benefit to the U.S. pistachio industry from APG’s strategic program to vanquish trade barriers.

The analysis from Dr. Dennis H. Tootelian, an emeritus Professor of Marketing, sought to determine what shipments of U.S. pistachios would have been if tariffs had not been lowered or eliminated in Israel, Mexico, China and Hong Kong, and the European Union which are the export markets prioritized for focus by APG. Many of his analyses centered on the period from 2009 through 2017 — the period in which tariffs were reduced in all five geographic areas.

Tootelian’s study showed that actual shipments of U.S. pistachios after the tariffs were reduced or eliminated for each export market were more than 2.3 billion pounds greater than what would have been expected had the tariffs remained in place. Equated in economic terms, the boost in export volume after the trade barriers had been removed amounted to nearly $3 billion greater value than what would have been expected had the tariffs remained in effect.

While Tootelian did not have any prior expectations of what his study would show, he was surprised by the findings.

“To see this kind of an increase in shipments on a before and after basis with the tariffs did surprise me. I did not expect this kind of result in the marketplace. These are not small numbers,” Tootelian said.   “What the data tell me is that there is latent demand for U.S. pistachios and once the tariffs come down, foreign markets want to buy them.”

Tootelian said the projected economic boon to U.S. growers is even more profound if the fluctuations in prices in China and Hong Kong were eliminated from the analysis.

“If you take the price fluctuations in China and Hong Kong out, the increase in value of pistachio shipments amounts to nearly $355 million more dollars per year — nearly $4.5 billion in total from the time when tariffs were in effect to after they were reduced or eliminated,” said Tootelian.

Data from the analysis estimated that more than 1.7 billion pounds of U.S. pistachios in total, or an average of more than 192 million pounds annually, may have gone into storage if they were not diverted to other markets. While the effect of the projected added supply on the world market is unknown in terms of lower prices, Tootelian said that it would surely have had a detrimental impact on U.S. growers.

“It is unknown what that would have done to the price,” he said. “In order to divert from storage and into other markets, prices probably would have had to come down considerably and whether they would have been able to market that much supply is an unknown.”

Underlying Tootelian’s analysis is the fact that price is not the sole determinant of the volume of U.S. pistachio exports. He said when tariffs are lowered or eliminated, traditional economics would dictate that increased shipments would lead to lower prices, but his data show demand for U.S. pistachios in some key markets remained high in the post-tariff era.  Several factors, he said, appear to be in play.

“One is the reputation of U.S. pistachios, which carries a very positive market image with consumers and importers. Second, it could be the quality of the product is better or more consistent, or both, for what consumers can buy from other countries,” said Tootelian. “And third, there are a lot of reputable health studies that show nuts are healthy and nutritious.  APG has invested considerable resources raising consumer awareness of the healthful attributes of pistachios, and consumers appear to be willing to pay a higher price. That is pretty clear from the data.”

APG has aggressively worked in the halls of Congress, with U.S. trade officials and with foreign governmental bodies to alleviate burdensome trade barriers and create a more open market for U.S-grown pistachios.

“Quantifying the value of APG’s efforts to growers has been difficult up to now, but this new study gives us some tangible answers to the importance of the work we are doing on behalf of the U.S. pistachio industry,” said Richard Matoian, APG’s executive director. “Frankly, we were quite surprised at the magnitude of these numbers.  It’s our strong belief that whenever and wherever trade barriers exist to the free flow of American-grown pistachios around the world, we will confront them vigorously.”

In a postscript to his analysis, Tootelian added, “If I were a grower, I would be encouraging APG to be doing this more in other markets because the greater the demand there is for the product, the less goes into storage and that helps boost the price.”

 

Madera County Ag Economy is Booming

Madera County Has Big Ag Job Base

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Madera County’s financial future is booming. David Rogers, a Madera County supervisor, is excited to know that Madera County is the fastest and number one growing ag economy in the United States.

“I represent most of the farming, and Madera County, which is the fastest growing our economy in the U.S. and has been for the last three and a half, four years,” Rogers said.

Madera County
David Rogers, Madera County Supervisor

Madera  is a business-friendly county.

“We’ve been number one in small jobs, manufacturing growth for the last nine years in a row, and all of that is ancillary to agriculture,” he said.

Pistachios and almonds have aided in Madera County’s financial growth.

“Some of those orchards that were planted five years ago are going to mean big revenue,” Rogers said.

Expansions to the Triangle T System have aided in the conveyance.

“The expansions were in wide areas, and conveyance is so critical to that,” Rogers explained.

There is also a new tunnel system that goes under the river for delivery.

“There was a lot of money that went into developing their system, and it’s paying off big time. I believe it’s almost 50,000 acres. It was 30,000 originally, I think, and it’s expanding more all the time,” Rogers said.

He also commented on the need for proper forest management that will allow more water into the system.

“One of the most important things that we can do right now is continue to emphasize forest management because that is a source of more water,” he said. The better the management, the faster the forests can return to a healthy state. With a healthier forest, that means more water in the system and more water in our ground.

Navel Orangeworm Prevention Critical

High Navel Orangeworm Numbers Statewide

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
mycotoxins
Bob Klein

Almonds are deep into hull split, and it is absolutely critical to control any damage from navel orangeworm (NOW), the number one pest in almonds and pistachios. California Ag Today spoke with Bob Klein, manager of the California Pistachio Research Board, about the issue.

“One of the big control strategies for NOW should have happened many months ago during the winter, such as cold sanitation,” he said.

Pest programs start with orchard sanitation. Many growers are lax on sanitation or spend low amounts.

“Those who do stringent jobs are spending $200-$250 an acre on sanitation. And so growers need to be prepared to pay that as far as insecticide applications,” Klein said.

Critical questions that need to be addressed are what you are going to choose to apply and how you are going to time it. When growers are gearing up to put on protective sprays, there are things to remember to increase efficacy. There are always ways in which application can be improved.

If you have a ground rig with fan sprayers, you can get a high kill rate on the lower canopy. You may have to make multiple applications to be able to penetrate the higher portions of the trees.

“You need to look at where your NOW is and maybe make multiple applications. So you can cover both the lower two-thirds of the tree and the top third,” Klein said.

Orchard Sanitation is Critical This Season

Orchard Sanitation to Push Back on NOW Underscored

By Mike Stevens, Associate Editor

We are completing our coverage of the importance of orchard sanitation to push back on Navel Orangeworm (NOW) pressure for 2018.

We recently spoke with David Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension entomologist and farm advisor for Kern County. He spoke about how sanitation is the most important practice that needs to be implemented.

David Haviland on Pyrethroid Review
David Haviland

“Yes, 2017 was a really interesting year on NOW. It was a bad year overall. Several things led up to that. The first one was sanitation was an issue,” Haviland explained. “There is not much of an excuse in the southern half of the almond industry, but with all the rain up north and the flooded orchards, yes, it was very difficult to get in and do sanitation, and we know that that is the absolute backbone of navel orange worm programs.”

Pistachios were also a concern when it comes to NOW.

NOW was right on schedule in pistachios. The pistachio crop was a little behind and so it was common to do a normal monitoring, normal spray program, and set up for a normal harvest. But then the crops sat out there for another 10 days or two weeks, which, of course, makes it very vulnerable to NOW worm damage.

“The longer you get away from your insecticide sprays, the more damage that’s going to occur, and a lot of the crop was harvested after the fourth flight occurred,” Haviland said. “When you put in the concerns with sanitation this year, and with the increased degree day accumulation, there were plenty of moths and then the crop got delayed. The overall effect was that this was a worse than normal year.”

At the same time, the industry is full of examples of growers that had very acceptable damage.

“Growers that did follow in greater pest management practices … did get their sanitation done. They documented that those things are really important, they are very effective, and the growers that weren’t able to get that sanitation done hopefully got a case study, personal experience in the value of sanitation,” Haviland said.

Every grower needs to do their part by incorporating sanitation, noted Haviland. “Obviously, if you’re the only one sanitizing amidst a bunch of growers that aren’t, that’s a concern,” he said.

Almond and Pistachio NOW Sanitation Critical This Winter

Joel Siegel on NOW Sanitation

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Last year was a bad year for navel orangeworm (NOW) mainly in pistachios, but also in almonds. If left in the trees, infested nuts become a great reservoir for more NOW to inhabit them.

Joel Siegel, NOW research entomologist, USDA Agricultural Research Service
Joel Siegel, research entomologist, USDA Agricultural Research Service

Joel Siegel, a research entomologist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service based in Parlier, stresses the importance of having a good sanitation plan in place to remove those NOW mummy nuts. “When we talk about sanitation, it should be the foundation for everyone’s nut program. That’s something that you control.”

“In almonds, it’s absolutely essential. Where we’ve taken a look at it in the south, every infected mummy per tree is good for 1 percent damage. So going from one mummy to two mummies, your damage on average increases another 1 percent.”

“It’s also important to destroy the mummies on the ground. You figure, for every eight or nine mummies on the ground, that’s good for about a half a percent increase in damage. Get them off the tree and shred the almonds.”

Siegel noted that while pistachio growers can clear mummy nuts off the tree, the industry has not been able to shred the fallen pistachios effectively. The hard, rounded pistachio shells just bounce around in the shredder machine.

almond_mummies
Almond Mummies

“What you can do is shake them off the tree as soon as possible so they’re on the ground where they can start rotting. You get those weeds growing around them. It has been shown that they break down faster in the weeds,” said Siegel.

“Growers disc them in. But if you’re going to disc them in, you have to disc them twice. Again, you’re not destroying the nuts, you are burying them so that NOW cannot lay eggs in the spring,” he said.

The risk of poor sanitation is high. Considerable NOW damage can prevent pistachio and almond growers from earning the premium paid for nuts that are pest-free.

American Pistachio Growers Celebrate World Pistachio Day with Good News

Just a week after the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released its report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), American Pistachio Growers, the trade association representing more than 625 pistachio grower members in California, Arizona and New Mexico is celebrating the good news today – on World Pistachio Day.

People who eat tree nuts on a daily basis, including pistachios, are making healthy choices, according to the report. The recommended guidelines emphasize a diet higher in plant-based foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seafood to lower the risk of chronic diseases, particularly those associated with obesity. These recommendations are consistent with the findings of numerous science-based studies on the role of tree nuts, including pistachios, in preventing obesity and providing other health benefits. The report provides the scientific evidence for the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are expected to be published by the end of 2015.

About two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese and about half of adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases. Poor dietary and physical activity patterns are associated with these conditions. Pistachios have been shown to play a positive role in weight management, blood sugar management, heart health and as a post exercise snack.

“It’s no wonder that more than 1/3 of Americans are obese. We’re eating too much salt, saturated fat, refined grains and added sugar resulting in excess weight, unhealthy blood sugar levels and deficiencies in calcium, fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, D, E, and C,” says Cheryl Forberg, Nutrition Ambassador to American Pistachio Growers.

Forberg continues, “Thankfully, the new guidelines suggest more whole foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, nuts, such as pistachios, and seeds to offset our nutrient needs and promote healthier weights and blood sugar levels.” One of the nation’s leading advisors on health and nutrition, Cheryl is a New York Times bestselling author, James Beard award-winning chef and the nutritionist for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”

Pistachios a Source of Important Shortfall Nutrients

Pistachios can help consumers meet a minimum of shortfall nutrients identified by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee while limiting overconsumption of sodium and saturated fatty acids. These nutrients include vitamins A, D & C, folate, calcium, magnesium, fiber, potassium, and iron for adolescent and premenopausal women. Of these, calcium, vitamin D, fiber, potassium and iron are considered of public health concern.

A 1-ounce 160 calorie serving of pistachios provides:

  • 290 mg potassium (8% Daily Value)
  • 3 g total fiber (12 % Daily Value) making pistachios a “good” source of fiber
  • 6% Daily Value of iron
  • 8% Daily Value for magnesium

In addition, unsalted pistachios are a sodium-free food. Pistachios provide 13 g of total fat primarily monounsaturated fatty acids (7 g) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (4 g) with about 1.5 g saturated fatty acids.

Three USDA-Recognized Healthy Diet Patterns Include Nuts

The Committee encouraged consumers to adopt dietary patterns low in saturated fat, added sugars and sodium. These include Healthy U.S.-Style, Healthy Vegetarian and Healthy Mediterranean diets. Such patterns are:

  • Rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts such as pistachios
  • Moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products
  • Lower in red and processed meat
  • Low in sugar sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains

 

About American Pistachio Growers

            American Pistachio Growers (APG) is a non-profit voluntary agricultural trade association representing more than 625 grower members in California, Arizona and New Mexico. APG is governed by a democratically-elected board of directors and is funded by growers and independent processors with the shared goal of increasing global awareness of nutritious American-grown pistachios. For more information, visit AmericanPistachios.org.

Nut Yields May Be Reduced by Drought

Source: Christine Souza; Ag Alert

Enduring a drought that has lasted several years, growers of California’s primary nut crops—almonds, walnuts and pistachios—are finishing this year’s harvest and planning for what Mother Nature may or may not bring in the coming year.

“Location, location, location” proved critical to almond and pistachio crops in particular, and seemed to be the determining factor in whether trees had enough water and the required number of chilling hours.

Some farmers were luckier than others, including Larry Lowder of Madera. A grower of almonds and pistachios, Lowder said he was “very fortunate where we live and this year we were able to produce a crop, where others didn’t have that luxury.” He said his farm is located in a microclimate that received sufficient chilling hours during the winter, something that was lacking in other parts of the Central Valley.

Dealing with a surface water allocation of zero, Lowder said he had to rely on deep wells, and he saved as much water as possible by using drip irrigation, microsprinklers and upgraded wells.

Even with a relatively favorable situation, Lowder said his almond yields were down by about 10 percent, although pistachio yields were much better.

In some California pistachio and almond orchards, the drought resulted in a shorter crop and a higher incidence of “blanks,” when a shell lacks a viable nut or kernel.

“Some growers, who had the effect of poor pollinization as well as lack of water, their crops were significantly off and there will be crop insurance claims filed,” said Richard Matoian, executive director of Fresno-based American Pistachio Growers. “One grower said the orchard looked like it had 3,500 pounds per acre, but ended up with 800 pounds of nuts to the acre.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated this year’s California pistachio crop at between 485 million and 500 million pounds, Matoian said, which is smaller than expected because it was to be an “on year” for pistachios. New figures from the Administrative Committee for Pistachios have increased the estimate to 515 million pounds, which Matoian said was “larger than expected in midsummer but certainly lower than original expectations.”

Many pistachio growers purchased emergency supplies of water, Matoian said, paying as much as $3,000 per acre-foot. Reports from the almond sector showed some growers paid between $1,200 and $2,200 per acre-foot.

Reflecting on how almond growers negotiated the drought, Mel Machado, assistant director of member relations for Blue Diamond Growers, said some orchards were either removed or abandoned, and water was moved from older blocks of trees to younger blocks.

“Growers have learned a lot about how to manage the water they have, but even with good technology and good application, there are orchards that definitely had increased stress this year,” Machado said. “You can see it in the lack of growth of the trees.”

Farmer Stan Wilson of Shafter grows almonds and other crops, and said he made it through this season on well water, but had to reactivate old wells, add extensions to pumps and install an underground pipeline so that he could move water from one field to another.

“We made it through the year. We had no surface water at all, so the only water supply we had was from wells. It is the first year we had zero deliveries,” said Wilson, who fallowed about 160 acres of row crops as a result of the drought.

With harvest drawing to a close, Machado reported that this year’s almond crop is hovering at around 1.85 billion pounds, down from the earlier government estimate of 2.1 billion pounds. Machado said he has seen higher levels of rejects in the almonds produced, but there were problems in addition to drought that played a part, such as varying degrees of stress and salinity issues.

“Quite frankly, we needed the 2.1 billion pounds. A lot of people look at orchards planted over the past few years and say, ‘What are you going to do with those when they come into production?’ Well, we’re going to market them. There is demand out there for the product. We’re still in a demand-exceeds-supply situation,” Machado said.

With just a few more weeks left of harvest, California walnut growers expect a crop that is 545,000 tons, which would be a record, said Dennis Balint, CEO of the California Walnut Commission. No official production figure will be known until harvest is complete, but Balint attributed the expected increase to newly planted orchards and young orchards that are coming into production with higher yields.

He, too, reported continued strong demand.

“Traditionally, we’ve been the ingredient nut, but demand for walnuts is strong and health benefits are starting to drive demand for walnuts. We are seeing more snacking, which we are pleased with,” Balint said.

Marketers said the increasing demand for California nut crops in domestic and global markets is good news for growers. There are 200,000 bearing acres of pistachios in California, and 100,000 acres are non-bearing, Matoian said. For almonds, USDA reported there are 860,000 bearing acres, with 80,000 non-bearing acres. There are an estimated 280,000 bearing acres of walnuts in California, and 45,000 acres that are non-bearing.

For the almond business, Machado said, “the limitation on the crop is going to be water. Water is going to be the competing factor for the almond crop, just as it is for just about every other crop in the Central Valley.”

As winter approaches, nut growers said they are hopeful that the state’s water situation changes for the better, although, Matoian said, “Even if we have a good rain year, we are going to have a lack of water available to growers; that is inevitable. That is what we’re being told by water regulators.”

Caifornia drought transforms global food

Source: Jeannette E. Warnert; ANR News Blog

Due to the California drought and what scientists believe will be a drier future, the state’s farmers will likely move away from commodity crops to focus on high-value products like almonds, pistachios and wine grapes, according to Richard Howitt, agricultural economist at UC Davis. Howitt was used as a source in a lengthy story on Bloomberg.com about repercussions worldwide of the three-year dry spell in the Golden State.

Another source was Dan Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center. He said shifts in California ag trends reverberate globally.

“It’s a really big deal,” Sumner said. “Some crops simply grow better here than anyplace else, and our location gives us access to markets you don’t have elsewhere.”

California is the United States’ top dairy producer and grows half of the country’s fruit. In 2012, almonds became the state’s second-most valuable ag crop. The Washington Post reported that in the U.S., almond consumption has grown by more than 220 percent since 2005. In the late 2010s, almonds surpassed the long-running nut leader peanuts (not including peanut butter) in per capita consumption.

The Bloomberg article opened with the story the Fred Starrh‘s family farm in Kern County. The Starrh family was a prominent cotton grower for more than 70 years. The shifting global market and rising water prices prompted the family to replace more of their cotton plants with almonds.

“I can’t pay $1,000 an acre-foot (of water) to grow cotton,” said Starrh, 85.

California grows four-fifths of the world’s almonds, the Bloomberg story said, using enough water to meet the needs of 75 percent of the state’s population. An advocate for bigger water supplies for cities suggests in the story that farmers should be profitable, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of urban water ratepayers.

U.S. Chicken Farmers Brace for Russia’s Retaliation to Sanctions

Source: Reuters; The Moscow Times

Russia’s threatened ban on U.S. poultry imports, the latest move in a sanctions skirmish over Moscow’s support of rebels in Ukraine, has agriculture companies alert to the risks of a conflict that’s already roiled trading of crops ranging from soy, beef and fruit to California pistachios.

Moscow has struck back against trade sanctions following the downing of a Malaysian jetliner last month by imposing food restrictions, and would add U.S. chickens to Ukrainian soy and other products Russia has blocked since it seized Crimea earlier this year: Australian beef, Latvian and Lithuanian pork, Moldovan fruit and Ukrainian juice.

Russia’s move to limit agricultural trade is seen as a sign the conflict with Washington is heating up. Russia imported about $1.3 billion in U.S. food and agricultural products last year, or about 11 percent of all U.S. exports to the country, according to U.S. Census data.

U.S. pistachio farmers have seen sales to Russia, the seventh largest export market, cut nearly in half this year because political tensions have made Russian importers hesitant to make purchases, said Peter Vlazakis, export market coordinator for the American Pistachio Growers.

Pistachio exporters have “a legitimate fear” about the potential for trade disruptions, Vlazakis said.

Russians may turn for pistachios to Iran, the world’s second largest producer after the United States.

An armed group last month occupied a Cargill sunflower-seed crushing plant in eastern Ukraine, a region supportive of the Putin government, and commodity trader Glencore is expected to have a hard time selling grain silos in the country.

Last week, the farm sector’s attention turned to poultry after Russia’s Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection Service said it found signs of the antibiotic tracycline in four shipments of U.S. poultry. The service could not be reached for comment.

The food safety watchdog’s threat to ban U.S. poultry imports, reported in government-controlled Russian media, came days after fresh U.S. and EU sanctions over Russia’s support of rebels in Ukraine.

Russia is the second largest importer of U.S. broiler meat behind Mexico, buying 276,100 tons last year, or 8 percent of U.S. exports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Russia’s purchases from January through May 2014 represented 7 percent of U.S. exports.

U.S. poultry exporters and producers said there were no problems with the meat. For some, the situation was hardly their first time dealing with trade troubles with Russia.

Russia has repeatedly been accused by the West of using food safety concerns and its veterinary service as instruments to ban supplies from countries with which it has strained relations or to protect its own industry. Explicitly banning a country’s products for political reasons would violate World Trade Organization rules.

Trade restrictions in prior years have caused some companies to back away from deals with Russian importers, said Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.

The council has advised poultry companies to keep in contact with Russian importers so they will get early warnings should Moscow impose a ban.

For Russian President Vladimir Putin, targeting agricultural imports could be a low-cost way to retaliate against U.S. sanctions over Ukraine.

Other threats, especially any involving Russia’s export of oil and gas shipments, likely would bring additional sanctions on Moscow, said Robert Kahn, a senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Russian sanctions on farm products would be “quite painful” for the companies affected, although the macroeconomic effects on the U.S. economy would be small, he added.

“These are fully political decisions,” Kahn said.

Navel Orangeworm Pressure Imminent

Almond Growers Get Ready to Treat for Navel Orangeworm

Almond and Pistachio growers should be ready to fight back on a particular seasonal pest this year.

Joel Siegel is a research Entomologist with USDA ARS in the Fresno County Office in Parlier. He is an expert on troubling pest for Almonds and Pistachios called NavelOrangeworm. He said growers need to be ready.

“Ok the big thing this year is because of the heat. If the almonds, if the non [ prowlers?] are splitting earlier you better be prepared to be spraying earlier,” said Siegel. “Its really based on nut vulnerability in my opinion, so you have to make your plans now. Get your materials secured so that you’re ready to move.” he added.

Growers need to get ready to protect their crops. Siegel discusses how another important crop, Pistachios need to be protected from the Navel Orangeworm.

“With pistachios, its harder to predict vulnerability, but all of this heat means we have the potential for an additional generation at least. So there could be more pressure. And again there is going to be more of a need to scout, and again make your plans in advance, and make sure you have your materials lined up.

Because of the daytime heat, Siegel said we are ahead of last year, which was a bad year for NOW.

“Well what we are in terms of heat units, is depending where anywhere between four to eleven days ahead where we were last year. And again, from talking to people on the nonpareil seem to be, maybe eight to ten days earlier this year,”

Siegel said just like almonds, being prepared is the most essential.

“If everything is vulnerable earlier you have to be prepared to move earlier than you’re used to doing it. With pistachios, there might be that dragged out cluster development, and again if people are going to have to harvest late, there is going to be more pressure on the back end.” said Siegel.

Siegel was speaking at the recent Southern San Joaquin Valley Almond Symposium in Kerman California.