California’s Almond Production Acreage Increases

April 28, 2021

Estimated almond-bearing acreage in California climbed 6% from 2020 to 2021, two new studies found. 

Almond-bearing acreage increased by 70,000 to 1.33-million acres in 2021, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

California-based research and consultancy Land IQ found nearly identical results in a report released the same day by the Almond Board of California (ABC), which commissioned the study. The Land IQ estimate puts almond-bearing acreage at 1.32-million acres, up from 1.25-million bearing acres last year. 

Bearing acreage reflects acres in production. The estimates are significant, suggesting that California almond production could continue to increase if recent yield trends hold. The current 2020-2021 crop has produced record quantities of almonds, putting downward pressure on market prices.

NASS researchers relied on questionnaires sent to almond growers, phone calls to growers, field visits, and Land IQ data to produce their estimate. Its data-collection process started in October 2020 and ended in April. Land IQ used image analysis and other techniques for its estimate.

The NASS study found that growers removed 35,000 acres of almonds in the past 12 months. Land IQ estimates that 47,803 almond-bearing acres will be removed from September 2020 to August 2021.

Some packers said they believe actual bearing acreage is less than NASS and Land IQ estimate, partly because the two studies have underestimated acreage removal. They said drought conditions in the state combined with difficulties growers face getting access to affordable water are prompting growers to remove and abandon almond orchards.

“The 35,000 is nowhere close to what is getting pulled out,” one packer said, referring to the NASS acreage-removal estimate.

Spokespeople for NASS and Land IQ could not be reached  for comment. In its release, the ABC said the Land IQ estimate has an accuracy of 98% or greater.