The California almond industry is on track to raise the production bar once again.

Growers expect record California almond harvest

Grower-shippers will apparently finish the 2010-11 season right at 1.67 billion pounds, the record volume projected earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, said Richard Waycott, chief executive officer of the Modesto-based Almond Board of California.

“We have absolutely record demand, and shipments are well above last year,” he said. “We really need larger crops to satisfy our global market.”

Early rains during the bloom and cooler than normal spring and summer temperatures did not make things easy for almond growers this year.

“But we expect that the final crop number will come in pretty close to the (NASS) estimate,” Waycott said.

About 70% of the almond deal is exported.

“We’re the largest agricultural export annually from California by far and even nationally we’re the largest specialty crop export from the U.S.,” Waycott said. “That’s about $2 billion annually and growing.”

Almonds remain profitable for suppliers and their customers.

“Prices have firmed up considerably over the last six months and are in a healthy range at this time,” Waycott said. “But when compared to other tree nuts, almonds offer a very competitive price and tend to be at the lower end of tree nut prices.”

The industry’s consistent production levels make almonds a good nut to plan on for retailers or as an ingredient for foodservice and manufacturers, he said. The consistent production levels will apparently persist.

“I think we are poised to continue to grow over the next several years, knowing what we have in the ground in terms of bearing acreage and the productivity of our crop in general,” Waycott said.