California Walnut Production Expectations Up From 2022

Brian GermanIndustry, Nuts & Grapes, Walnuts

California’s 2023 walnut production is expected to reach 790,000 tons, marking a five percent increase compared to 2022. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), walnut production was measured at only 752,000 tons last year. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that the forecast is based on 385,000 bearing acres, which is four percent less than the estimated 400,000 acres in 2022.

Walnut Production

The data comes from the 2023 Walnut Objective Measurement Survey, which analyzed 675 blocks with two sample trees each. The survey results show an average nut set per tree of 1,004, indicating a two percent rise from last year’s average of 981. Additionally, the survey found that 99.2 percent of the nuts had sound kernels in-shell.

The positive outlook can be attributed to favorable weather conditions. A cold winter ensured sufficient chill hours for the walnut trees, while a wet winter and spring helped restore soil moisture in walnut orchards throughout the state. The result has been an expected improvement in nut quality compared to the previous year. Preliminary figures also indicate that last year’s crop has effectively been sold out.

“Last year, we were facing a completely different scenario with 130,000 tons in inventory brought on by the lingering effects of the COVID-impacted global marketplace and a record heat wave last September that negatively impacted the entire crop, which led to lethargic sales and record-low grower returns,” said Robert Verloop, CEO and Executive Director for the California Walnut Commission.

The 2023 Walnut Objective Measurement Survey was carried out officially from July 22 to August 25. A total of 1,350 trees from 675 orchards were sampled, with enumerators randomly selecting two trees in each block. The survey, funded by the California Walnut Board, estimates a confidence interval of 715,000 to 865,000 tons for the 2023 walnut production, bringing some optimism to the state’s walnut industry.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West