It appears that 2020 is shaping up to be a good year for California walnuts. The Central Valley crop reportedly looks healthy and strong. Despite the positive outlook for production, there is some concern within the industry as to what kind of effect that will have on pricing. The expectation is that growers will have a record year in terms of tonnage with more trees coming into production. Certified Crop Advisor and Sustainability Specialist for Ultra Gro, Richard Kreps said that the trees orchards he’s seen have looked great so far.
“The nuts are big and had some weight. The color was very light which was nice, so I was pretty happy with that. I think the crop looks good, unfortunately, our walnut guys I think have had one good year in the last eight with price,” said Kreps. “With China controlling the market, that’s a little bit of a struggle for them. So, they’ve got to do everything they can to make sure they get optimal yields.”
Figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that growers can expect a sizable crop for California walnuts this year. Projections are up 19 percent from last year’s production numbers, with estimates calling for a record 780,000 tons. The Chandler variety, which Kreps described as the industry’s “bread and butter,” remains the most dominant variety in California. The Chandler trees appear to be strong this year, however, there is a bit of concern for Serrs with the trees losing so many nuts early in the season.
“But I’ve got some guys down in Kings County that the Serrs look pretty good. It’s just been such a struggle finishing these crops too with the late stuff that likes a little more sunlight and heat because of the smoke cover we’ve had in the Central Valley,” Kreps noted. “So, I think the one thing that we can control is post-harvest nutrition and definitely getting the irrigation right.”