The 2021 California walnut production is forecast at 670,000 tons, down 15% from 2020's record production of 785,000 tons. The forecast is based on 385,000 bearing acres, up 1% from 2020’s estimated bearing acreage of 380,000.
Widespread freezing temperatures in late fall of 2020 resulted in frost damage to walnut orchards across the state. Growers reported the frost damage delayed leaf out and reduced nut set in affected orchards. Additionally, because of the state’s drought conditions, orchards experienced a higher degree of freeze injury. Walnut growers throughout the state struggled with drought conditions and water availability, as most of the state is in a drought emergency. Chilling hours were up from last year.
Survey data indicated an average nut set per tree of 992, down 17% from 2020’s average of 1,197. Percent of sound kernels inshell was 99.5% statewide. In-shell weight per nut was 22.2 grams, while the average in-shell suture measurement was 32.4 millimeters. The in-shell cross-width measurement was 33.4 and the average length in-shell was 37.9 millimeters.
Estimated nut sets, sizing measurements, average number of trees per acre, and estimated bearing acreage were used in the statistical models.