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Large volumes forecast for 2020 California nut harvests

In California, the 2020 almond harvest is underway now. It will soon be followed by harvests of pistachios and, next month, walnuts. California farmers and marketers say they expect larger or record crops—which could prove challenging due to the pandemic's impact on world markets, including stalled shipments and pricing.

Glenn County  farmer Walt Stile: "We expect a record crop, close to 3 billion pounds." A 3 billion-pound crop would represent an 18% increase from the 2019 harvest. Stile, who grows almonds and walnuts in Butte and Glenn counties, said he got a late start with almond harvest due to pest management applications for navel orangeworm.

He said the fires burning statewide had certainly affected the orchards. Agalert.com quoted him as saying: "Fires have caused hazy conditions and added moisture, which is not good drying weather for the almonds," Stile said. "We like to leave them drying on the ground no longer than five to seven days. Because of haze and high humidity, these nuts are going to have to stay on the ground a lot longer than I would like."

Fresno County farmer Lorna Roush of Schultz Ranch Inc. reported "an excellent almond crop" as harvest began, but also reported impacts from wildfire smoke.

Roush and Stile said they train employees about safety requirements and about measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Roush said she encourages employees to maintain proper social distancing and wear personal protective equipment, and to take precautions to protect from heat and bad air quality.


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