California’s 2006 almond production is now forecast at 1.05 million meat pounds, up 3 percent from May’s subjective forecast and 15 percent above last year’s crop, according to the USDA/NAAS California field office.

The forecast is based on 580,000 bearing acres. Production for the Nonpareil variety is forecast at 378 million meat pounds, 34 percent above last year’s deliveries. The Nonpareil variety represents 36 percent of California’s total almond production.

California almond set appears spotty, but strong overall. However, several factors contributed to an inconsistency of the set include a low accumulation of chilling hours that produced an early bloom; a frost that hit early varieties; minor hail damage, and wet, cool conditions that continued throughout the spring.

Damage from the leaf-footed bug varied, but should not affect overall production significantly. The popular Nonpareil variety shows a strong set, as do the Butte and Padre varieties. Kernel weight, length, width, and thickness are all down from last year.

The average nut set per tree is 6,723, up 23 percent from 2005. The Nonpareil average nut set of 6,848 represents a 47 percent increase from last year’s set. The average kernel weight for all varieties sampled was 1.57 grams, 12 percent below last year. A total 97.4 percent of all nuts sized were sound.

The objective survey began May 31 and sampling was completed by June 23. There were 1,668 trees sampled for the 2006 survey in 834 orchards. An additional 113 orchards were not sampled for one of the following reasons: orchard had been sprayed; orchard had been recently irrigated and was wet; orchard had been pulled or owner refused to cooperate or could not be contacted.

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 971 million meat pounds to 1.13 million meat pounds.