Bearing acreage of walnuts in the Golden State has increased from 218,000 in 2007 to 335,000 in 2017, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The estimated 650,000 tons harvested last fall was down from the record 686,000 tons produced in 2016, but it was still nearly double the 328,000 tons produced in 2007.
The renewed focus on demand came after a precipitous drop in prices in late 2015 and early 2016. For example, the price of Chandler in-shell walnuts fell from a high of $2.12 per pound in 2014 to 88 cents in early 2016, according to a summary of price trends by the Oroville, Calif.-based Merlo Farming Group. Prices have since stabilized, climbing to $1.32 per pound for in-shell Chandlers as of October.
The overall 2016 crop was valued at $1.24 billion, up from the previous year’s $1.01 billion, but down from a high of $1.9 billion for the 2014 crop, according to NASS.