Record almond harvest projected for California

06/29/2012 1:40 PM

06/30/2012 6:49 AM

This year's California almond crop looks as if it will set a record after all, the federal government projected Friday.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated the harvest at 2.1 billion pounds, up from the initial projection of 2 billion pounds in May.

That first estimate, based on a telephone survey of growers, had put the crop at less than last year's record 2.03 billion pounds. The second figure, which relied on measurement of developing almonds, nudges 2012 into first place.

The actual figure will depend on conditions during the harvest, which will start in August.

The agency announced the projection at the Modesto headquarters of the Almond Board of California. It is closely watched by industry people because of its possible effects on prices for the nuts.

Almonds are second only to milk in gross farm income in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. The state grows about 75 percent of the world's supply.

More on Friday's report:

The state has about 780,000 acres of bearing almond trees, up from about 760,000 last year and 545,000 in 2002. The growth rate has slowed.

The average yield per acre is projected at a record 2,690 pounds this year. This is a result of improved breeding and growing practices.

The 2.1-billion-pound projection for this year is almost double the size of the 2002 harvest.

As of May 31, shipments of the 2011 crop and 2010 carryover were up 15 percent compared with a year earlier, according to the Almond Board.

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