Latest almond nursery sales report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows no slowdown in plantings with 108,000 acres of almond trees planted in the Valley from June 2015 through May 2016. Of that 71 percent were new orchards with the rest replaced existing almond orchards.
These latest numbers are up from last year at 96,000 acres and 67,000 acres between 2013-2014. The report also details that almond prices fell in 2015 to an average of $2.84 per pound from $4 the year before. In another report USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service forecasts that California’s 900,000 acres of bearing almond trees will produce 2.05 billion pounds of nuts this year. That’s a 7.9 percent jump from the year before.
Walnut prices: Meanwhile a USDA report says walnut prices fell to 84 cents a pound in 2015 compared to $1.62 a pound the year before and $1.82 the year before that. Expansion in the walnut industry here continues as seen by construction of a new $1.2 million walnut dehydrator building by John Hamar Farms.
San Luis Reservoir: Storage is zooming higher this November, now near 700,000 acre-feet as regulators take advantage of recent plentiful northern California rainfall. The pumps will be going full out, farmers hope, to get as much water as possible in the key off-stream storage reservoir by March. The reservoir is run by both the state and feds. With the news this week of a Trump victory – farmers here are hopeful the feds will now push to speed water south of the Delta. Trump’s earlier visit to the Valley promised as much.
Trump effects: Other impacts on Kings County could come from Trump’s promised scrapping of climate change initiatives that could include any future support for High Speed Rail from the federal government. The project is not supported by the GOP who won both houses in Congress this week. During the campaign Trump appeared to favor more high speed trains, though. Back in March he said “You go to China, they have trains that go 300 miles an hour. We have trains that go ‘Chug, chug, chug.’ And then they have to stop because the tracks split, right?”
Then there is a potential impact of Trump on exports from a change in trade policy. About 80 percent of Valley nuts and lots of our milk goes overseas and would be hurt by any trade war.
Dairy: Good news this week for local dairymen as cheese blocks reached $1.93 a this Tuesday, up from $1.53 in early October and as low as $1.30 earlier this summer. About half our milk goes to make cheese.
More Homes: Locally-based San Joaquin Valley Homes has closed escrow on 28.75 acres at 12th Avenue and Hume Avenue in Hanford. The developer is planning on breaking ground on Chandler Park, a new neighborhood offering 115 single-family homes this month. The retail value of this development is expected to exceed $28 million.