MODESTO, Calif. – California’s almond acreage decreased in 2022 for the first time in more than 25 years, despite a slight increase in bearing acres, according to new reports released Thursday by Land IQ and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS).
Both reports were issued to the Almond Board of California (ABC) and offer the latest picture of California’s almond industry. The USDA-NASS report looks at the completed 2022 year. The Land IQ report is a snapshot estimate of the coming 2023 harvest.
The USDA-NASS 2022 California Almond Acreage Report said total almond acreage in 2022, which includes non-bearing trees, was estimated at 1.63 million, down from 1.65 million in 2021, a drop up 1.2 percent. This reinforces a Land IQ report in November 2022 that estimated a similar decrease in total acres.
Land IQ’s 2023 Standing Acreage Initial Estimate issued Thursday looked at bearing acreage – orchards planted before 2021 and that have matured enough to produce a crop for the coming harvest of the 2023-24 crop year. It estimated that bearing almond orchards at harvest will cover 1.366 million acres across California, an increase of 24,000 acres – or about 1.7% – over 2022’s 1.342 million acres that were reflected in Land IQs November final 2022 estimate. This reflects a continuing slowdown in acreage growth.
In addition, the report estimates about 77,700 acres of orchards will be removed by Aug. 31, 2023, about 17,300 acres more – approximately 29% – than the 60,400 acres that Land IQs estimated were removed by the end of August 2022.
“These reports show a faster pace of removals and slower growth in bearing acreage, possibly signaling a trend towards lower California almond acreage for a while,” said Richard Waycott, ABC president and CEO. “On the other hand, we’re seeing record shipments in recent months as logistical issues are being resolved, so we know global demand for California almonds continues to grow and there’s no doubt that almonds will continue to have a very significant role in California and global agriculture.”
Land IQs estimate comes from multiple lines of evidence, including extensive examinations on the ground and advanced remote sensing analytics. Land IQ said the 2022 standing acreage estimate is 98.8 percent accurate.
The USDA-NASS report gave a preliminary estimate for bearing acreage in 2023 at 1.38 million acres, but cautioned that a major source of data for this estimate is a survey mailed to mailed to about 6,500 growers and is unlikely to be 100 percent accurate.
USDA-NASS said Nonpareil continued to be the leading variety in 2022, followed by Monterey, Independence, Butte and Carmel. And it said Fresno, Kern, Stanislaus, Merced and Madera were the leading counties. These five counties accounted for 75% of the total bearing acreage, the same as in 2021.
These reports are being issued side by side by the ABC to provide a complete picture of California’s almond acreage.
Neither of these reports offer any estimate on the actual almond yield this 2023-24 crop year. The first look at yield will come on May 12 with USDA-NASS’ Subjective Estimate. A fuller picture of crop size will come with USDA-NASS’ Objective Report in July.
Land IQ’s Initial Estimate and its Final Acreage Estimate in November, along with USDA-NASS’s April Acreage Report, May’s Subjective Estimate and the Objective Report in July are all commissioned by ABC to provide statistical transparency and a robust picture of California almonds to industry stakeholders around the world.