Giant Crops Loom

Giant Crops Loom

The statistics are alarming at first glance. U.S. pistachio acreage, which is limited to three states, California, Arizona, and New Mexico, with the lion’s share in the Golden State, has been rising at a rapid rate. Total acreage climbed from 177,000 in 2007 to 215,000 in 2010. It’s estimated that another 15,000 acres were planted this past winter, bringing the unofficial total to 230,000.

It’s even more alarming when you realize that pistachios are one of the least precocious of tree crops, and don’t generally bear a crop until the trees are seven years old. That means there are some huge crops looming on the horizon, says Richard Matoian, the executive director of the Western Pistachio Association (WPA). “The industry figures indicate that 40% of total acreage is nonbearing, so we’re predicting larger crops in 2013 and 2014,” he says. “By 2017, we will have a doubling of the size of the crop. In 2009, the crop was 354 million pounds, and we believe we will be at 800 million by 2017.”

Growers aren’t panicking, though, for a couple of reasons. First, more and more health studies show that like other tree nuts, pistachios are a healthy snack. Second, and perhaps more importantly as a practical matter, is that people love pistachios. And they’re willing to pay for them. Consider that while the crop was up a whopping 48% in 2010 — pistachios are also very much an alternate bearing crop — the price still went up 25%. Growers received an average of $2.22 per pound last year, a new record.

Asia Promising

Growers are also confident because people in Southeast Asia and India especially seem to like pistachios. As the relatively large populations in those parts of the world continue adding income at a relatively rapid rate, they are becoming hugely important to marketers. For instance, China’s pistachio consumption went from $5 million-worth just six years ago to $109 million in 2010, says Matoian. “And that’s just one bright shining example,” he says.

Pistachio growers know that consumption must continue to increase in countries such as China and India, which just lowered its tariff on the crop, if they are going to profitably market those big crops that are coming. Because of that, they are changing their name. They have found the word “Western” in “Western Pistachio Growers” can be a little confusing. For instance, in Europe people think first of Western Europe. And when tested in Asia, people tended to think of Wild West images like cowboys. “Also, there was even confusion here in the U.S. with Western,” says Matoian, noting that no pistachios are grown in the eastern U.S. “But people would ask — seriously — about the Eastern Pistachio Association.”

So they tested out various names, and one consistent — and welcome — result was that the term “American” tested well. It also quickly and easily identifies the origin of the product in overseas markets. But best of all, it’s a marketer’s dream. “It was shown to provide consumers with a sense of quality and safety,” he says.

A Volunteer Effort

So this year the Western Pistachio Association will gradually transition into becoming American Pistachio Growers. A voluntary organization that is funded with an assessment of 4¢ a pound, it represents about 35% of the industry volume and about half the 800 growers in the three states. Matoian says he’s really proud of what the WPA has achieved in the four years since it got up and running following the dissolution of the California Pistachio Commission (CPC). At the time, it was pretty much strictly a political organization with a lobbyist back in Washington, D.C.

But with no CPC, a lot of leading growers got together and realized they needed to do something about all that nonbearing acreage, says Matoian. In 2007, they expanded WPA activities and in 2009, they ramped up domestic PR efforts, launching the successful “Green Nut” campaign. Then just last year, realizing that a key to success was going to lie overseas, they took over the California Pistachio Export Council’s international marketing and now direct the crop’s federal Market Access Program.

So despite the many acres of pistachios about to come on-line, Matoian says, American Pistachio Growers is ready, willing and able. “Our industry trade association is voluntary — we have a strong core group of growers and processors who believe in the generic message of American-grown pistachios. I feel very fortunate to be working in a commodity where the growers are willing to put their money where their mouths are,” he says. “They’re not waiting until the big production is here — they’re doing it now. And that’s exciting.”

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Nuts Stories
(Photo credit: USDA NCRS)
Citrus
July 5, 2016
Citrus, Pistachio Researchers Named First UC Endowed Chairs
Extension advisors named University of California Cooperative Extension Presidential Chairs to study pistachio production systems. Read More
The ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Lab and the Louisiana Armed Forces Foundation are teaching beekeeping to veterans. (Photo credit: Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS)
Farm Management
July 4, 2016
Beekeeping Gives Veterans New Opportunities
Workshop helps introduce veterans to the biology behind keeping bees. Read More
Varroa mites, like the one attached to the back of this honey bee, can decimate unprotected hives. The tiny parasites feed on the bees' blood and can infect them with harmful viruses. (Photo credit: Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS)
Fruits
June 28, 2016
Bees May Accidentally Bring Varroa Mites Into Their Hives
A USDA research team is learning that mite populations often spike in the fall, due to migration into the hives. Read More
Photo credit: USDA
Farm Management
June 28, 2016
USDA Announces Conservation Programs, Partnerships During National Pollinator Week
USDA, industry organizations join up to ensure conservation efforts include pollinators. Read More
Close-up of a brown stink bug
Fruits
June 22, 2016
Florida Growers Warned To Beware Of Brown Stink Bugs
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this insect pest. Read More
Walnuts
Nuts
June 22, 2016
Walnut Acreage Grows At Double-Digit Pace
Walnut acreage in California is continuing its rapid growth with 2015 estimates at 365,000 acres, according to the USDA. It Read More
Almonds growing in a tree. (Photo credit: University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Nuts
June 21, 2016
Almond Board Develops Classroom Curriculum
California school students could add a lesson on almonds to their traditional reading, writing and arithmetic. The Almond Board of Read More
The Latest
Nuts
July 15, 2016
Almond Board Funding Groundwater Recharg…
The Almond Board of California (ABC) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy lab managed by Read More
Irrigation
July 14, 2016
New Tool Calculates Almond Orchard Water…
A new irrigation calculator tool may help almond growers who want to maximize irrigation efficiency to conserve water, a vital Read More
Nuts
July 6, 2016
Almond Crop Expected To Rise By 8%
Growers report better chill hours and a stronger bloom than in 2015. Read More
Citrus
July 5, 2016
Citrus, Pistachio Researchers Named Firs…
Extension advisors named University of California Cooperative Extension Presidential Chairs to study pistachio production systems. Read More
Farm Management
July 4, 2016
Beekeeping Gives Veterans New Opportunit…
Workshop helps introduce veterans to the biology behind keeping bees. Read More
Fruits
June 28, 2016
Bees May Accidentally Bring Varroa Mites…
A USDA research team is learning that mite populations often spike in the fall, due to migration into the hives. Read More
Farm Management
June 28, 2016
USDA Announces Conservation Programs, Pa…
USDA, industry organizations join up to ensure conservation efforts include pollinators. Read More
Fruits
June 22, 2016
Florida Growers Warned To Beware Of Brow…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this insect pest. Read More
Nuts
June 22, 2016
Walnut Acreage Grows At Double-Digit Pac…
Walnut acreage in California is continuing its rapid growth with 2015 estimates at 365,000 acres, according to the USDA. It Read More
Nuts
June 21, 2016
Almond Board Develops Classroom Curricul…
California school students could add a lesson on almonds to their traditional reading, writing and arithmetic. The Almond Board of Read More
Citrus
June 14, 2016
Monsanto Rejects Second Bid From Bayer
Wall Street Journal reports Monsanto seeks bid increase from Bayer. Read More
Disease Control
June 7, 2016
Avoid Almond Hull Rot With Deficit Irrig…
As growers approach almond harvest later this summer, strategies to reduce the likelihood of hull rot should be a top Read More
Farm Management
June 6, 2016
Agriculture Company Fined For Deadly Exp…
A California agricultural firm has been cited and fined more than $40,000 for a 2015 Bakersfield explosion that killed a Read More
Disease Control
June 1, 2016
Fumigation, Proper Rootstocks Key To Con…
Much remains mysterious about Prunus Replant Disease (PRD) and exactly how it operates to suppress growth of young replanted almond Read More
Nuts
May 31, 2016
Keep Resistant Weeds At Bay While Not Br…
Rather than focusing all of a pre-emergent spray program in the winter to attack winter-emerging weeds, University of California Cooperative Read More
Farm Management
May 27, 2016
California Drought Far From Over
To preserve orchards and vineyards, growers are expected to fallow up to 350,000 acres of corn, wheat, cotton and alfalfa. Read More
Insect Control
May 26, 2016
Temperature, Location Key To Predicting …
This year, leaffooted bugs are expected to be a significant problem in almonds and pistachios, but watching temperature and the Read More
Fruits
May 26, 2016
Consider Fumigating For Nematodes Before…
Stone fruit and almond growers looking to replant orchards might want to invest in soil samples to assess nematode populations Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]