The initial forecast for 2010 California almond production is 1.53 billion pounds, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) based in Sacramento, Calif.

The forecast is 8.5 percent above last year's revised production of 1.41 billion pounds.

Estimated 2010 bearing acreage in California is 740,000 acres.

The forecast is based on a telephone survey NASS conducted April 23 - May 4 with almond growers.

Of the 485 growers sampled, 317 reported. Acreage from the reports accounted for 28 percent of the total bearing acreage.

Despite a variable spring, weather in 2010 had few negative effects on the developing almond crop, NASS reports. Some bee activity was hampered by rain, but the overlap of varieties was excellent. Nut sets looked good. Acreages in the San Joaquin Valley that experienced frost damage in 2009 show heavy sets this season.

High winds resulted in some nut and tree losses, but damage was not significant. Wet weather increased concerns about fungal infections and rot, but additional sprays have kept the problem in check.

A benefit of the cool weather has been low insect pressure.

Overall NASS says almond trees are growing well and the crop is developing in good condition.