California almond sector measures adverse weather impact on harvest volume

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California almond sector measures adverse weather impact on harvest volume

The California almond season is underway, with the sector currently shipping its fall harvest to international markets. 

Rains and unusually low temperatures, however, drove production down, according to the California Almond Board (ABC). Those conditions stalled volumes, explained Bryce Spycher, ABC’s Senior Manager of Marketing Order Services. 

“The report we just put out [Thursday] shows receipts currently at 2.437 million pounds. So we’re down about 6%,” Spycher said.

The last USDA crop report, published in July 2023, put the Golden State’s almond production at 2.6 million pounds for the 2023-24 season.

“If you go all the way back to February of 2023, which is when our bloom, our pollination happens, there was a lot of cold weather during that time. There were also some rain events. And that led to some situations where we had a kind of a protracted bloom,” Spycher added.

California almonds are typically harvested in late July or August. However, Spycher explained that the 2023-24 crop was delayed.

“The almonds are grown in the state of California, and it's over 500 miles between the valley from the southern end to the northern end. So, you get some regional differences as far as when harvest starts,” he said. 

“But on average, this year, harvest started much later - in some cases, as much as two to three weeks later for some growers than traditionally.” 

Related articles: Almond Board of California sees potential for growth in Indian market

As for quality, Spycher said the sector is seeing a slight spike in the percentage of rejects. This percentage includes fruit damaged by insects and other defects.

“From a quality standpoint, the percentage of rejects was a little bit higher this year than what we've seen historically. The 2023-24 crop got a reject percentage of 4.22%. That's up from 2.12% the year before”, the executive explained.

The almond industry is the state’s top crop by acreage and exports, and it ranks 4th by value, according to ABC’s 2023 almanac.

For the 2022-23 season, 29% of the state’s production stayed in the United States. As for destination markets, India remains the top importer of California almonds, taking in more than 330 million pounds.

Spain, China, the UAE, and Germany are also among the top buyers of California almonds.

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