The latest forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects the 2023 almond crop to be down about three percent from last year. Almond Board of California President and CEO Richard Waycott said it was not entirely unexpected. The 2023 California Almond Subjective Forecast estimates the current crop at 2.5 billion pounds. Inclement weather around bloom time is predicted to have taken a toll on pollination. However, there is optimism for the flowers that were pollinated this year.
“Obviously this year, unlike the last three years, we don’t have a shortage of water,” Waycott noted. “So whatever nuts are on the tree that are growing shouldn’t be impacted by deficit irrigation as we have been in certain parts of the state during the last couple of years. So that’s very favorable for this crop maturing to its full potential.”
The last few years have been a challenge for growers. High costs of inputs compiled with logistical slowdowns have created significant hardships. Lower almond prices have also been tough on growers. Despite the setbacks, Waycott said they are “cautiously optimistic” for the 2023 almond crop as demand remains strong. “I think with these slightly lower crop numbers that will allow the world supply/demand to get back into better balance than it was; sort of artificially thrown out of balance by factors almost all of them completely out of our control,” said Waycott.
A clearer picture of the 2023 almond crop will be made available in July when the Objective Forecast is published. There are indicators that conditions are moving in a positive direction. Competitors in the almond market such as Spain and Portugal are not expected to have an excessive crop. Freight rates and certain input costs are also coming down from extreme highs.
“We know we’re not out of the woods yet in some respects financially in the industry. But certainly, there’s a lot of reason to see how this next crop year will be a better performer in that sense,” Waycott explained. “We’ve been through tough spots before. We’ve always emerged from them, and we’ve continued on profitably in a growth mode to the next level. So, I think that’s the expectation.”
Listen to Waycott’s interview below.