California’s almond harvest is underway. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts a smaller almond crop. Rocque Merlo, president of Merlo Farming Group in Oroville, says wholesale prices will definitely increase because of the drought. In fact, they’re up a dollar from last year.
“Well we’re forecasting that Nonpareil will be going to $3.25 and $2.80 or $2.85 for pollinators,” said Merlo. “And that’s just what our budget is forecasting, some are forecasting higher. … But, I think that if we can get a blended $3 average, I think we’re doing pretty good for this year.”
These higher prices would help California almond growers after a tough pandemic year. Prices dropped significantly during the pandemic to $1.83 per pound, due to multiple factors. Those include trade disruptions and disputes, lower consumer incomes, and an abundant supply of almonds in 2020. Meanwhile, the latest USDA numbers show that California had a record 1.3 million acres of almonds in production.
After another dry summer, California’s almond growers face several environmental factors that could reduce the crop. Less water means both smaller crops and more pest damage. In July of this year, just before almond harvest season began, the USDA estimated that estimated this year’s almond crop would come in at 2.8 billion meat pounds — down from last year’s record numbers of 3.1 billion pounds.