The first objective California almond crop estimate is 880 million pounds, up 4 percent from May's subjective forecast. That will help, but the crop is still woefully short of the 1 billion pounds the industry needed to meet demand.

If the final crop is 880 million pounds, it will be down 13 percent from what was produced last season.

This forecast is based on 550,000 bearing acres. Production for the Nonpareil variety is forecast at 280 million meat pounds, down 21 percent from last year's deliveries. The Nonpareil variety represents 32 percent of California's total almond production.

Weather during bloom was less than ideal this year due to continued instances of rain. The Nonpareil variety displayed one of the weakest blooms in years. Bloom was rapid with an extremely poor set. Numerous orchards displayed early petal fall. In addition, rain decreased the ability of bees to successfully pollinate many orchards. The set in other varieties is also down, but not to the extent of the Nonpareil variety. Kernel weight, length, width, and thickness are all up from last year. The kernels solidified slower than normal due to cooler than average temperatures during the spring.

The average nut set per tree is 5,461, down 24 percent from 2004. The Nonpareil average nut set of 4,650 represents a 30 percent decrease from last year's set. The average kernel weight for all varieties sampled was 1.79 grams, up 23 percent from last year. A total 97.7 percent of all nuts sized were sound.

The survey for the latest estimate began May 23 and sampling was completed by June 19. There were 1,676 trees sampled for the 2005 survey in 838 orchards.

The Objective Measurement Survey is funded by the Almond Board of California, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The 80 percent confidence interval is from 829 million meat pounds to 931 million meat pounds. This means that the results of this sampling procedures will encompass the true mean 80 percent of the time.