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Almond cropland value going nuts
Global demand sends land suitable for nuts soaring
Almond blooms in 2012 framed the Ripon water tower. - photo by Bulletin file photo

The billions of pink and white blooms blanketing the Ripon countryside next month will likely produce almonds that will grace tables from China to Europe.

That’s because the world can’t get enough of California grown almonds.

More than two thirds of all almonds now grown in California are destined for overseas markets. Almonds have surpassed grapes as the No. 1 agricultural export. Almonds have also topped grapes in overall value in California with the pecking order now being dairy at No. 1 followed by almonds and grapes.

Record crops coupled with a near doubling of demand in markets such as China and Hong Kong have sent demand for almonds soaring.

As a result, land for almonds - as well as other hot nut crops such as pistachios and walnuts - is in high demand. It is helping pushing up farmland prices and is expected to put major pressure on the ability of developers to secure land to build homes.

Experts had anticipated farmland to drop in value right along with residential foreclosures. But aggressive marketing by the California Almond Board coupled with the state’s reputation of producing high quality nuts has sent demand skyrocketing. Production has doubled during the last decade. As a result, farmland values are now pushing record highs making nut land - almond, pistachio and walnut - the highest valued type of cropland in every county in the Central Valley. That is according to the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers’ California chapter.

The state - which grows 100 percent of the domestic supply and almost 80 percent of the global supply -- has 760,000 almond bearing acres. That’s up 100,000 acres since 2008.