By Rick Kushman, Almond Board of California
The 2023 California Almond Subjective Forecast published Friday by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) estimates that the crop harvested in 2023 will come in at 2.50 billion pounds, 3 percent below last year’s 2.57 billion pounds.
Forecasted yield is 1,810 pounds per acre, down 90 pounds from 2022 and the lowest since 2005.
“A lower crop estimate was not unexpected considering all that growers dealt with last year and during this year’s bloom,” said Richard Waycott, president and CEO of the Almond Board of California (ABC). “The cold, wet weather kept bees in their hives and reduced the hours they could pollinate orchards. In the past three years, growers have faced high costs, shipping issues, drought and more. But the water picture is better, at least for this year, shipping continues at record levels and global demand continues to grow. California’s almond farmers are prepared to meet that global demand.”
The report said: “Record rainfall and unprecedented stormy conditions impacted pollination. Limited bee flight hours were reported in all growing regions. There were reports of downed trees due to high winds and oversaturated soil. Yields are expected to be the lowest in years, with variation observed across varieties and orchard locations. Colder than normal temperatures continued through March and April, resulting in a delayed crop.”
The Subjective Forecast is the first of two production reports from USDA-NASS for the coming crop year. It is an estimate based on opinions from a survey conducted from April 19 to May 6 of 500 randomly selected California almond growers. The sample of growers, which changes every year, is spread across regions and different sized operations, and they had the option to report their data by mail, online or phone.
On July 7, USDA-NASS will release its second production estimate, the 2023 California Almond Objective Report, which is based on actual almond counts in nearly 1,000 orchards using a more statistically rigorous methodology to determine yield.
This Subjective Forecast comes two weeks after USDA-NASS released the 2022 California Almond Acreage Report which found total almond acreage had dropped in 2022 to 1.63 million, 1.2 percent down from 1.65 million in 2021. It also estimated 1.38 million bearing acres in 2023, up from 2022’s estimate of 1.35 million bearing acres.
USDA-NASS conducts the annual Subjective Forecast, Objective Report and Acreage Report to provide the California almond industry with the data needed to make informed business decisions. These reports are the official industry crop estimates.