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California almond orchards would now cover all of State of Delaware
almond tree
A photo of an almond orchard north of Manteca in bloom in February.

MODESTO — President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware isn’t big enough to contain all the acres California farmers have planted in almonds.

California in 2020 — based on the United States Department of Agriculture’s almond acreage report — had an estimated 1.6 million acres planted in almonds. That’s a tad larger than the number of acres in Delaware. With 1,593.313 acres Delaware is the nation’s 49th largest state.

The five biggest almond counties in California are Fresno, 167,794 acres; Kern, 158,680 acres; Stanislaus, 120,933 acres; Merced, 116,989 acres; and Madera, 99,573 acres. San Joaquin County is sixth with 46,771 acres that are all planted in the Escalon, Manteca, Ripon, and Tracy areas.

 A value has yet to be placed on the 2020 crop. The 2019 production was valued at $6.094 billion.

The report reflects a continued increase in California’s almond acreage in 2020. Bearing acres, or orchards that have matured enough to produce a crop, are estimated at 1.25 million acres, up 5.9 percent from 2019. Total almond acreage, including non-bearing trees, is estimated at 1.6 million, up 5.3 percent from the previous yeari.  Nonpareil continued to be the leading variety, followed by Monterey, Butte, Carmel, and Padre.

 “California almond bearing and non-bearing acreage continues to increase indicating almond production will also rise in coming years. Demand has consistently been very strong during this crop year with global shipments YTD (August 2020 – March 2021) up 17.7%, as production crossed the 3 billion pound threshold for the first time,” said Richard Waycott, president and CEO of the Modesto-based Almond Board. 

All export regions of the world have reported strong numbers, with shipments to China/Hong Kong up 59% year to date (YTD), South Korea up 45% YTD, India up 51% YTD, and Western Europe up 12% YTD, as compared to a year ago.

On Wednesday, May 12, USDA will release the 2021 Subjective Estimate, which provides an initial forecast of the upcoming crop. Data within the Subjective Estimate is based on opinions obtained from almond growers in a survey sent by USDA-NASS. Almond growers will soon receive the USDA-NASS survey and are encouraged to participate.

On Monday, July 12, USDA will release the 2021 Objective Report. This report collects data later in the growing season, closer to harvest, and is based on an actual count of nuts on the trees.