Calif. almond crop

China is the third largest export market for almonds. A record 2.5-billion-pound crop is forecast for this year. The industry is concerned about the escalating trade war with China.

MODESTO, Calif. — The bulk of a record 2.5-billion-pound forecasted California almond crop won’t be subject to the latest Chinese tariffs.

“The only new tariff we are aware of is the 18% previously on roasted, manufactured in cans going to 28%,” said Julie Adams, vice president of Almond Board of California, in Modesto. The bulk of exports, almond kernels and in-shell nuts, remain at the 50% tariff China imposed a year ago and are not on the list of increases, she said.

“We don’t want to experience being shut out of China and don’t think we will be. We want to see that market grow to its full potential but right now it won’t,” Adams said.

Prior to last year’s tariffs, the Almond Board anticipated 6% year-over-year growth because of China’s increasing middle class wanting almonds, she said.

Recognizing fair trade is essential, the industry prefers to see that issue addressed through international organizations and bilateral negotiations rather than tariff wars and wants transparent and predictable trade with a minimum of disruption, she said.

August through April exports to China were 106.6 million pounds, down 33% from the prior year, according to the Almond Board reports. It is the third largest market behind India and Spain.

The preliminary crop forecast, known as the California Almond Subjective Forecast, was issued May 10 by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The 2.5 billion pounds predicted is up 8.69% from the 2.3-billion-pound record 2018 crop.

The preliminary forecast is about two weeks after NASS released a report estimating total almond acres at 1.39 million in 2018, up 2% from 2017.

Bearing acres were 1.09 million in 2018, up 6%. Looking ahead, NASS reports preliminary bearing acreage for 2019 at 1.17 million, up 7.3% from 2018.

The subjective forecast is based on opinions from randomly selected almond growers via a phone survey in April and May.

The objective or final forecast will be issued by NASS July 3 and is a more precise estimate based on actual almond counts and measurements gathered from more than 850 orchards throughout the state. It includes weight, size and grade of average almond samples broken down by growing district and variety.

More than 6,000 almond growers and processors in California produce about 80 percent of global supply. Harvest begins at the end of July near Bakersfield and spreads north to end in the Sacramento Valley in mid-October.

Central Washington field reporter

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