The 2014 California walnut production is forecast at a record 545,000 tons, up 11 percent from 2013’s production of 492,000 tons. This forecast is based on the 2014 Walnut Objective Measurement (O.M.) Survey, officially conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service August 1 through August 22, 2014. There were a few samples completed before August 1 for training and scheduling purposes.
Despite a lack of chilling hours and a drought that has hit California, the 2014 walnut crop is forecast at a record level. Growers used surface water where available and groundwater when necessary to provide adequate water supply to the trees. Weather conditions during the growing season were mild thus benefitting the crop. Crop quality is excellent with low disease and insect pressures. Overall, the 2014 crop is developing faster than last year and harvest is expected to start early.
The 2014 Walnut O.M. Survey utilized a total of 746 blocks with two sample trees per block. Survey data indicated an average nut set of 1,372 per tree, up 11 percent from 2013’s record low average of 1,239. Percent of sound kernels in-shell was 98.7 percent Statewide. In-shell weight per nut was 21.2 grams, and the average in shell suture measurement was 32.5 millimeters. The in-shell cross-width measurement was 32.4 and the average length in-shell was 38.1 millimeters. All of the sizing measurements were above average levels.