The Almond Board of California reported on Tuesday, July 1 that the state should expect a record harvest for this fall’s crop. Based on 860,000 bearing acres – nearly 900 orchards – in the state, the California Almond objective forecast for the 2014-2015 crop is 2.10 billion meat pounds, an all-time high.
The previous high was last year, when the crop came in at 2.1 billion pounds.
The forecast was funded by the almond board and is administered by the California Field Office of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service. An earlier estimate on May 1 was for production to be approximately 1.95 billion pounds, based on interviews with a sampling of almond growers, but the number has since been revised.
“This year’s objective forecast during a third-consecutive drought year is a testament to the state-of-the-art farming practices and techniques our growers use to minimize water use,” Chairman of the Almond Board of California Bill Harp stated in a press release. “We are looking forward to celebrating a crop that is expected to be the largest on record and even with this volume; it will be a challenge to the meet the ever growing global demand for almonds and almond products.”
With ground water an issue amid drought conditions for the local communities of Oakdale, Riverbank, Escalon and the rest of the Central Valley, the almond industry, driven by the year-round need for water, has been among the most proactive in developing advanced conservation conscious irrigation techniques.
Pressurized drip irrigation systems that distribute valuable water to crops have replaced standard irrigation systems.
Other methods assist in distributing the quantity of water applied. Soil sensors, compared with evapotranspiration measurements, are designed to enable growers to irrigate only when the trees need it and only as much as they will absorb in the root zone.
Legislation has been introduced in the State Senate and Assembly to launch regulation of groundwater and well drilling for the first time. The discussion is focused on the idea of a workable yield in a given water basin, or replacing what is taken out. Any new restrictive legislation would have major implications for almond acreage that relies on ground water irrigation.
California dominates the world almond market, producing about 80 percent of the global supply. Almonds, unlike some other high-value local crops, have a bottomless demand overseas. Despite more and more acreage being planted with almond trees, the price has held steady.
“Acres planted with almonds have increased almost 15 percent since 2007, according to the 2012 USDA Ag Census,” stated Richard Waycott, President and CEO of the Almond Board of California. “Almond acreage has grown consistently over the years as our family farmers have built their businesses sustainably to meet global almond demand.”