The California drought continues to plague California farmers as survey results from the government’s agricultural statistical agency predicts the 2015 California almond production at 1.85 billion-pounds, down 8 percent from 2013 production.
The 2015 subjective production estimate figure from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) compares to 2.01 billion pounds in 2013, and 1.87 billion or 1 percent lower than last year’s crop.
The NASS survey pegs 2015 forecasted bearing acreage at 890,000.
Water is a problem for many growers with limited amounts available for purchase, says NASS. Growers irrigating with well water expressed salinity concerns.
The survey is based on a NASS telephone survey conducted from April 14-29 based on 328 responses, representing about 29 percent of the total bearing acreage.
The 2015 almond crop year kicked off this year with bloom in early February, one of the earliest starts ever. NASS calls the overall bloom “fast and compact” with the Monterey and Fritz varieties blooming earlier than Nonpareil.
Following warmer winter temperatures than normal, the lower two-thirds of trees blossomed two weeks ahead of the top in several cases which could signal deficient chilling hours for trees this past winter.
The Nonpareil set appears less than optimal while pollinator varieties look good overall.
Nut sizing was at least two weeks ahead of normal and ahead of last year’s early crop.
Insect pressure could exceed last year’s level but remains manageable, in part tied to the drought.