Calcot's inaugural year almond returns disappoint

The nation's largest cotton cooperative enjoyed one of his most successful years last season - marketing cotton. However, that success did not cross over to its new venture, almonds.

To diversify, Calcot ventured into the state's largest tree nut crop for the first time last season. It was a natural as many of its cotton-growing members also produce almonds.

Calcot president Tom Smith said the cooperative first year's results were "less than hoped for" in announcing that there would be no season-ending payments to seasonal pool producers.

Final prices for pool almonds were: Nonpareil Pool A, 67 cents per pound; Nonpareil Pool B, 63 cents; and California varieties 56 to 60 cents depending on the pool. The average quality premium was just over 14 cents.

Smith said the disappointing returns were the result of Calcot being "too bearish."

The industry anticipated a record crop through the summer and fall of `99, resulting in lower prices. Prices did fall, but they recovered "in a very big way. This was a scenario neither we nor many other handlers were well positioned for."

Secondly, Calcot overestimated crop receipts during harvest and sold a higher percentage of the crop at harvesttime than planned and had little to offer for sale in a the spring rally. And, thirdly operating costs were higher than anticipated, Smith acknowledged.

Smith said the cooperative has identified and will be able to correct the problems in its almond operations. "We are confident that at this time next year, we will have a much better story to tell."

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