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California’s atmospheric river storm strengthens almond markets

California almond growers continue to assess potential damage from the recent atmospheric rainstorm in the state. “It brought a lot of water and snow to the valley. With most of the rivers and creeks spilling, all the water alongside orchards was flooded,” says Bikram Hundal of Custom Almonds LLC. With almond bloom almost done in California, the assessments will look at the toll that fewer bee flight hours, colder temperatures and hail have all taken on the potential 2023 crop.

For a water-intensive crop such as almonds and looming Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) regulations, the water was a welcome respite and the flooded orchards will undoubtedly help with the groundwater recharge says Hundal.

What has it done for almond markets in the meantime? Considering the storm and the record number of February 2023 shipments, Hundal says packers have withdrawn offers from the market. “Before this storm, the price was around $1.50/lb. This has jumped to $1.75/ lb., almost a 17 percent increase if we compare the 2021-22 crop size, which will end up around 2.55B lbs,” he says. “Many growers are pessimistic about the 2022-23 crop that will be harvested around July 23 to be around 2.1-2.2B lbs. though it is still early to make this assumption. The market sentiment has improved and some buyers are scrambling to procure the remaining of the 2022 crop before it starts the uphill rally.” 

Returns to growers
He notes that before the storm, the average grower return for 2021-22 was below $1.5/lb.--notably below break-even point in farming almonds. “If we compare last year’s shipment numbers, there’s no shipping bottleneck and California is shipping a record-breaking number of almond shipments with a 5.5 percent increase compared to last year on total shipments. The current industry sold position is 69 percent based on a 2.55B projected crop,” he says.

So what to do about the remaining shipments of California almonds? “I get asked almost every other day now: should I sell the crop? My answer to that is if there’s a buyer at this price, start selling,” says Hundal. “Feed into the market so all the channels throughout the supply chain make the profit rather than stall it for short gains.”    

For more information:
Bikram Hundal
Custom Almonds LLC
Tel: +1 (559)-346-8212
[email protected]