President and CEO of the Almond Board of California (ABC) Richard Waycott spoke during the state of the industry address at the 2017 Almond Conference, offering insight into current and future priorities. “We’re really going to focus on what we’re calling ‘unleashing orchard potential’, it’s going to cover a lot of areas,” said Waycott, “our orchard, what comes out of our orchard, and maximizing potential for new markets.”
One of the concerns brought up during the address focused on how growers will be dealing with hulls, shells and woody biomass in the future. The industry is currently investigating multiple methods of dealing with the byproducts to not only provide “more sustainable types of uses for them but also provide more value for the industry,” said Waycott. “It’s really sort of taking that approach that we’ve had with the kernel and applying that really to the coproducts.”
ABC also plays an important role in evaluating the viability of new technologies that become available to growers. “We are that institution that can take on these types of things for the benefit of everybody, and hopefully have a lot of home runs, but at the same time, we’re going to have some strikeouts too,” Waycott said.
Sustainable conservation and groundwater recharge also remain significant priorities in research pursuits. Waycott also explained that much of the work that has been done on behalf of growers is thanks in large part to the increased assessment.
The state of the industry address allowed Waycott to highlight the fact that it was a record year for both almond production and shipments, with demand projected to continue to expand. “We are investing in four new markets, completely new to us, and we’re ramping up investment in four other existing markets,” said Waycott.
Listen to the interview below.