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Winds cause $70 million-plus loss in California almonds

Winds cause $70 million-plus loss in California almonds
Ferocious winds up to 50-miles-per-hour range April 8-9 across California caused at least a $70 million loss to the California almond industry. Statewide, California growers lost about 50 pounds of nuts per acre or about 2 percent of the total almond crop.

Ferocious winds up to 50-miles-per-hour range early last week across California caused at least $70 million in losses to the almond industry. Statewide, growers lost about 50 pounds of nuts per acre.

This assessment by Blue Diamond Member Relations Manager Dave Baker represents about a 2 percent crop loss statewide.

“I estimate about 30-40 million pounds of almonds were lost in California due to the high winds,” Baker said.

Based on a 30-million-pound loss, Baker calculated the dollar loss in the $70 million range from the winds on April 8-9.

The winds about equally impacted almond growing areas across the state, from the greater Sacramento Valley to the North to Kern County in the South.

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The good news, Baker says, is few trees were blown down statewide.

“A few growers lost 35-40 trees in their blocks and some others lost 15-20 trees in blocks but those were few and far between,” Baker said. “This will cause a (financial) hardship for the growers in those orchards.”

California has about 800,000 acres of commercially bearing almond trees.

Much of the crop loss was caused by the winds pushing limbs against each over.

“There was a lot of damage from the limbs blowing back and forth striking each other which knocked crop off the trees,” Baker said.

Almonds were in the nut formation stage about the size of a thumb. There was no real damage difference from one variety to the next.

Independent pest control adviser Mike Strmiska of Strmiska Crop Consulting, Fresno, consults on crops in Fresno, Madera, and Kern counties. Strmiska’s almond loss assessment is about 100 pounds per acre of “good nuts.”

“We were beginning the period of shed so it hastened the shed nut fall. The ground looked pretty green in some orchards.”

Average yields in the tri-county area fall in the 3,000-pound-plus per acre range.

The long-term damage, Strmiska says, was the amount of downed trees in some older, taller orchards. Almond growers continue to clean up damaged orchards.

Looking at pistachios, Strmiska says blowing sand in the wind tattered some leaves. No major damage was observed.

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