( Courtesy Almond Board of California )

California is forecast to have another record almond crop this year, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimating an increase of almost 18% over last season’s crop.

The July 7 objective forecast of 3 billion pounds is the same as a May subjective forecast, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, which provides the forecast in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The nonpareil variety of 1.3 billion pounds is a 24% increase from last year’s crop; that variety represents 45% of production.

The NASS reported that California growers have 1.26 million bearing acres of almonds, compared to 1.18 million bearing acres in 2019.

Average yield on each tree is 5,645 nuts, according to the NASS, a 21% from the 2019 crop. Within the nonpareil variety, that average is 27% higher than the previous per-tree yield average.

A dry February in California led to excellent bloom conditions, according to the USDA report. Isolated storms in late March/Early April and reports of high winds damaging trees heavy with nuts did not lead to any significant damage.

“High temperatures in late May and through June helped develop the crop through its final stages,” according to the report. “Irrigation was needed and water availability was not an issue. Coupled with a large increase in bearing acreage, the 2020 crop is estimated to be the largest on record.”

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