Thursday, September 1, 2016

2016 California Almond Harvest is Setting a Record

Almond orchards near Orland, California 2016
[Photo credit]

Earlier this summer, an acquaintance of mine sent me aerial photos taken on July 1st, 2016 over almond/nut groves near Orland, in central California. I thought the photos were quite outstanding and wanted to feature them here. Now the time has come, as reports are out that the 2016 California almond harvest is setting a new record. An expected 2.05 billion pounds of almonds will be harvested, compared to 1.86 billion pounds last year, and this compares to a previous record set in 2011 of 2.03 billion pounds. The harvest acreage increased from 890,000 acres last year to 900,000 this year.

The Sacramento Valley produces about half of the state's almonds, and the San Joaquin Valley produces about half. The photos in this post, near Orland, are from the northern Sacramento Valley. This region did not increase production this year over last year due to a short bloom time period. Most of California's 2016 increase in almond production came from southern San Joaquin region.

The almond harvest in the Orland, California area takes place over two months from the end of July through the end of September.

Almond prices were $5 per pound last spring and have fallen to $3 a pound now. Almond growers are hopeful that products such as almond milk will increase demand. Almond milk is now six percent of all milk sales, up from a half a percent of milk sales five years ago, and exceeding soy milk sales among the non-dairy milks. Starbucks decision to carry almond milk gets some of the credit. The milk wars are on and advertising revenue reflects it.

In 2015 almonds were a $5.5 billion farm commodity crop for California, second only to dairy milk. Walnuts came in 9th at $977 million. Almonds are California's leading Ag export and California grows 80 percent of the world's almonds.

Almond orchards near Orland, California 2016
[Photo credit]

Most almond orchards in California are family owned, and most are smaller than 50 acres in size.

Finally, here is one last aerial photo of California almond groves from our friend. We can see some dry areas that were formerly irrigated ? If any reader is from this region of California and wishes to comment about the farming there or these photos, please do so!

Sacramento Valley Almond Groves
[click on photo to enlarge]

Many crops seem to be setting records this year. I find this remarkable, considering main stream media's negative doom and gloom predictions from a few years ago about water, drought, weather, and climate change. Almond farmers are adapting by using water saving technologies and improved harvesting methods, too, as are other Ag commodity growers. It will never be a perfect world, but grit and resilience prevail. Let's hope the bees can keep up with our human ambitions, follies, and created environments.

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