Economists at the 46th annual Almond Conference, recently held in Sacramento, CA, announced that on the strength of record per-acre yields expected in the future, the state’s almond crop will reach the 3-billion-pound mark in five years.
While California has just recently topped 1 million bearing acres, Rabobank Senior Analysts Roland Fumasi and David Magaña say their newly developed almond supply-and-demand tool estimates the state will hit 1.26 million acres by 2022.
California harvested a record crop of 2.45 billion pounds this past season. Because of an expected increase in the removal of aged trees, average yields may actually decline next season, but they believe an increase in bearing acreage more than compensates, and another record crop is expected in 2019. Because of strides made by growers, researchers and others affiliated with the industry, record yields are expected from 2020 forward.
While more than 70% of the almond crop is exported ― and the trade forecast has been choppy at best of late ― the demand for almonds worldwide continues to increase, says Fumasi.
“Rising income is the biggest driver,” he says. “It’s an exciting time to be in these (specialty) crops.”
As incomes continue to increase in developing countries, studies show the residents’ eating habits will change, says Magaña, and will include more almonds. Developing countries, unlike the rest of the world, also have fast-growing populations.
“In the next 12 years,” he says, “the global middle class will be growing by 150 million people per year.”
Also at the conference, the Almond Board of California (ABC) announced a $6.8 million investment in 75 independent research projects exploring next-generation farming practices including optimal use of everything almond orchards grow.
ABC’s research programs provide a scientific basis for best practices across several priority areas, including water sustainability, pollinator health and finding new uses for almond coproducts, including hulls, shells and woody material.
“Innovation is at the core of sustainable almond farming,” says Almond Board of California President and CEO, Richard Waycott. “Since 1973 almond farmers and processors have invested $80 million in research through the Almond Board to improve our understanding of almonds’ impact on human health, ensure food quality and safety, and improve farming practices while minimizing environmental impacts.”