Walnut Crop Expected to be Down 5%

The 2017 California walnut production is forecast at 650,000 tons, down 5% from 2016’s record production of 686,000 tons, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

This forecast is based on the 2017 Walnut Objective Measurement (O.M.) Survey, which was officially conducted Aug. 1 through Aug. 19. There were a few samples completed before Aug. 1 for training and scheduling purposes.

The 2017 walnut season began with adequate chilling hours and record amounts of rain during the winter and spring months. There were reports of orchards being saturated for several weeks which resulted in a compromised root system. A higher than average insect problem was also reported.

August was much hotter than normal in California, and during the excessive heat waves over the summer, growers applied sunburn preventative materials. Harvest is expected to begin this week.

The 2017 Walnut O.M. Survey utilized a total of 737 blocks with two sample trees per block. Survey data indicated a record low average nut set of 1,141 per tree, down 19% from 2016’s average of 1,406.

Percent of sound kernels in-shell was 98.1% statewide. In-shell weight per nut was 23.4 grams, while the average in-shell suture measurement was 32.7 millimeters. The in-shell cross-width measurement was 33.3 mm, and the average length in-shell was 38.6 mm. All of the sizing measurements were above the previous year’s levels.

Estimated nut sets, sizing measurements, average number of trees per acre, and estimated bearing acreage were used in the statistical models. The 80% confidence interval is from 596,000 tons to 704,000 tons.