Almonds are a big part of Butte County’s agriculture revenues. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Predictions are for California to have a second consecutive record almond crop, though the increase will be moderate compared to the surge in 2020.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), which is a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, made the announcement this month. The forecast is for 3.2 billion pounds of almonds to be harvested in California, which would be a 3 percent increase from 2020. The harvest increased 22 percent from 2019 to 2020.

NASS said the glut last year drove down prices for growers to $1.83/pound or $3,660 per ton. Those kinds of numbers had not been seen since 2010.

The price per ton and whether there will be enough water for the trees may mean the tonnage has to be higher so farmers can make some money.

Less water means fewer nuts per tree. Butte County is one of the 41 counties in the state declared to be in a drought emergency by the governor.

Walnuts, rice and almonds are the top three agriculture commodities in Butte County. In 2019, walnut production was $214,261,031; rice $166,060,830; and almonds $140,698,904. Coming in fourth were prunes at $24,850,000. (2020 numbers won’t be released until the fall.)

The value per ton of almonds was $4,486 in 2019. This was a drop from 2018, when the price per ton was $4,808.

Butte County has more than 41,000 acres devoted to almond orchards.

California produces 81 percent of the world’s almonds and 100 percent of the commercial supply for the United States. Almond harvest is usually August through October.

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