For the first time in more than two decades, California almond acreage decreased year-over-year. Land IQ’s 2022 Standing Acreage and Removal Final Estimate shows that total standing acreage as of August 31 was estimated at 1.64 million acres. Data for the same period last year showed 1.66 million acres.
“The drop was accounted for in the non-bearing acres, which then dropped the total acreage down a little bit,” said Almond Board of California President and CEO Richard Waycott. “Does this mean that we’re seeing fewer acres planted? I would say, that’s certainly the trend. Which we’ve seen historically when we have lower pricing back to the grower and obviously the drought conditions.”
Information for the estimate comes from advanced remote sensing analytics combined with extensive examinations on the ground. The number of non-bearing acres in 2021 was measured at 353,000 acres, while this year that number fell to 294,000. Alternatively, bearing acres actually increased from 1.31 million last year to 1.34 million acres this year.
“The Land IQ report did report on stressed trees and abandoned orchards and that kind of thing but they’re still standing. So, the total acreage number that they report is standing acres,” Waycott explained. “So, one would suspect, what they classify as abandoned orchards would be removed.”
Orchard removals also contributed to the drop in total almond acreage. The total number of acres removed also increased from 2021, with 60,400 acres removed as of August 31 this year. Waycott noted that the information does raise the question of what kind of replanting will be taking place over the winter. “They may have been older orchards and with the pricing the way it is, and maybe water issues as well, the grower felt it was an opportune time to remove them but intends to replant. So, a little bit hard to predict there,” said Waycott.
Listen to Waycott’s interview below.