This year’s almond crop is expected to be larger than that from last year, and growers are pointing to more rain and a better winter as reasons for the boost in production. More volume could mean lower prices, but those better price points could entice foreign buyers to purchase more nuts than in previous years.
The most recent California almond forecast has 2016’s crop at 2.0 billion pounds, which is a 5.8 percent jump from 2015’s crop of 1.89 billion pounds. At 2,200 pounds per acre, the expected yield for this season is a 4.7 percent improvement over last year’s yield of 2,120 pounds per acre.
“We had a smaller crop last season because of the continued drought and a short, warm winter,” said P-R Farms’ Robert Rocha. “Those things stressed the trees, but more water and a colder winter have allowed the trees to recuperate.”
With more volume available, Rocha is looking for better demand, domestically and abroad, to match what will be available. In the past, high prices and a strong dollar have affected export sales, but lower prices might boost exports this year.
“In China, for example, we have seen demand taper off in recent years as their economy has cooled off,” said Rocha. “But that cooling off has also coincided with our high prices. I think they’ll respond to lower prices, and we’ll be able to reach their consumers with those lower prices. It will be a good thing if we get more demand from those markets because we’ll need those export sales as we move into bigger production.”