California’s pistachio crop may end up a little lighter than initially anticipated, even with the understanding that it is an ‘off’ year. Coming off a record crop last year growers were expecting a decline for 2019, but reports are indicating a smaller crop than what was previously forecasted.
“It initially looked like it was going to be a larger year for our ‘off’ year, but what I’m hearing from the growers is that the fields are a little bit lighter than even they had hoped for,” said American Pistachio Growers Executive Director Richard Matoian. “So, that’s a little disappointing there.”
Nut size and quality become even more important factors for years that are expected to be lighter in terms of yield. Matoian explained that certain customers specifically look for larger sizes, which this year appears to have provided. “The great thing is the nut size is larger than what we’ve had in the past and beyond that, quality is really good so far with low insect damage, which is really important to our growers to be able to produce a quality crop,” said Matoian.
The outlook for California pistachios is a positive one, with demand remaining strong in existing markets and growth continuing in new markets. Even during times of trade tension, it appears that demand for pistachios has remained fairly constant. “We see the demand for pistachios growing all around the world. China has been a strong market, and even this year despite the tariffs we’ve had record shipments into China. India; we have tripled shipments from last year to this year,” Matoian stated.
In the next year, many more acres of pistachios will be coming into production which should push the 2020 pistachio crop towards another record harvest. “It looks like with all things being good – enough chill hours, enough rainfall – that we’re going to hit that billion-pound crop easily. In fact, we came within six million pounds of hitting it in 2018, so by 2020 we should easily hit that number,” said Matoian.