It’s official: In 2017, California growers produced almonds on 1 million acres. According to figures released today by the Pacific Regional Office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), another 330,000 acres were non-bearing. That total – 1.33 million acres – was up 7% from the 2016 acreage of 1.24 million.
Preliminary bearing acreage for this year is expected to increase somewhat, with the increase estimated at 1.07 million acres. ‘Nonpareil’ continues to be the leading variety, followed by ‘Monterey,’ ‘Butte,’ ‘Carmel,’ and ‘Padre.’
According to the Almond Board of California (ABC), the expansion of almond acreage means more almonds to feed a growing consumer demand — but also represents an opportunity for farmers to add value with coproduct innovations.
In 2016, the almond industry produced 3.37 billion pounds of almond hulls and 1.35 billion pounds of almond shells, as more than two pounds of hulls and shells are generated for each pound of almond kernels.
These coproducts have historically been used as livestock bedding and dairy feed, but ABC-funded research is underway to identify ways to increase utilization and redefine orchard coproducts as valuable materials for other industries. The future of almond coproducts includes pilot-scale testing to improve soil quality, strengthen recycled plastics and feed insect larvae for poultry feed.
“The Almond Board remains dedicated to the future of the almond industry, driving innovations like coproduct utilization to ensure the continued success of farmers,” said ABC president and CEO Richard Waycott. “With an increasing almond acreage, the industry has more opportunity to realize the full potential of everything an almond orchard provides,” he said.