Walnut production forecast is down
September 6, 2017
• Could be as much as 5 percent below last year's harvest
• Heavy spring rains, insects cited as possible reasons
The 2017 California walnut harvest – almost all of which is from the Central Valley – is forecast at 650,000 tons, down 5 percent from 2016's record production of 686,000 tons, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Sacramento.
Harvest is expected to begin during the middle of September.
This forecast is based on the 2017 Walnut Objective Measurement Survey, which was officially conducted August 1 through August 19. There were a few samples completed before August 1 for training and scheduling purposes.
The 2017 walnut season began with adequate chilling hours and record amounts of rain during the winter and spring months. There were reports of orchards being saturated for several weeks which resulted in a compromised root system.
A higher than average insect problem was also reported.
During the excessive heat waves over the summer, growers applied sunburn preventative materials.
The 2017 survey used 737 blocks with two sample trees per block. Survey data indicated a record low average nut set of 1,141 per tree, down 19 percent from 2016’s average of 1,406. Percent of sound kernels in-shell was 98.1 percent statewide.
In-shell weight per nut was 23.4 grams, while the average in-shell suture measurement was 32.7 millimeters. The in-shell cross-width measurement was 33.3 and the average length in-shell was 38.6 millimeters. All of the sizing measurements were above the previous year’s levels.
The survey began in 1958 to fulfill industry needs for an accurate walnut production forecast prior to harvest. The original sample was chosen proportionally to county and variety of bearing acreage. With each succeeding year, additions and deletions have been made in the sample to adjust for acreage removed, new bearing acreage, and operations that choose not to participate in the survey.