Almond acreage across California has continued to increase over the past few years, reports USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
Currently, 'bearing orchards', or orchards that have matured enough to produce a crop, cover over one million acres - a figure up 2% from last year and up 6% from 2017, says NASS.
The service adds that, along with the increase, almond growers remain committed to finding ways to responsibly produce more almonds to meet global and domestic demand, noting that 30% of California's total almond shipments supply the domestic market.
In view of this aim, the Almond Board of California (ABC) Board of Directors says it has prioritized industry resources in four key areas - water use, harvest dust reduction, environmentally friendly pest management, and zero waste.
ABC says that it hopes by doing so, it can help ensure almonds' place as leaders in California agriculture as they work towards producing an economically, environmentally, and socially responsible crop.
The board comments that these four areas are also key elements of the board's Almond Orchard 2025 goals as well as its industry accomplishments.
For example, over the past two decades, growers have reduced the amount of water it takes to grow a pound of almonds by 33%, says ABC.
According to the board, another of its eco-friendly achievements was on the processing side - there have been zero outbreaks of foodborne illness attributed to California almonds since the rollout of a groundbreaking pasteurization program a decade ago.
In fact, in recognition of the board’s “preeminence in and contributions to the field of food safety”, the Almond Board was selected to receive the GMA Food Safety Award from the International Association for Food Protection earlier this month.
Commenting on the honor, Almond Board president and CEO Richard Waycott says: “The California almond industry continues to prove itself as a leader in responsible practices, from the orchard to the processor.
“The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals act as a guidepost on our journey towards continued advancement and innovation throughout the industry. With the latest acreage numbers, we’re confident in our ability to continue to meet global demand and to provide the world with a high-quality product.”
As for the initial forecast of the upcoming crop, NASS is set to release its 2019 Subjective Report on Friday, May 10, 2019. Data for the Subjective Report is based on opinions obtained from almond growers in a survey sent by NASS. Almond growers will soon receive the NASS survey and are encouraged to participate.