The June 30, 2009, objective almond forecast for the 2009-2010 crop year is 1.35 billion meat pounds, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS) California Field Office.

The forecast is based on 710,000 bearing acres.

Doug Flohr, NASS statistician, said the forecast is down 7 percent from the May 8, 2009, subjective forecast of 1.45 billion pounds. The estimate is also down 16 percent from this year’s crop to date of 1.613 billion pounds as of May 31, 2009.

The average nut set per tree is 5,589, down 25 percent from the 2008 almond crop. The Nonpareil average nut set is 5,136, down 27 percent from last year's set. The Nonpareil variety represents about 36 percent of California’s total almond production.

The average kernel weight for all varieties sampled was 1.58 grams, up 10 percent from last year.

After a difficult spring, the 2009 almond crop is generally in good condition, NASS says, although it looks to be about two weeks behind. Bloom progressed slowly due to wet conditions and wet weather hampered pollination. Cool temperatures extended the almond bloom in parts of the Sacramento Valley. Freezing temperatures in March caused damage to some almond orchards.

NASS says irrigation water availability is a concern but has had minimal impact on the overall 2009 crop.

The NASS forecast was announced at the Almond Board of California (ABC) office in Modesto, Calif. ABC funds the forecast.

Richard Waycott, president and chief executive officer of the Almond Board of California (ABC), expressed confidence in the industry's ability to continue to market California Almonds and grow global demand.

"While the objective estimate has been lowered somewhat from the subjective estimate, the efforts of the ABC to further develop global markets by expanding the demand for California almonds continue undaunted," Waycott said.

"The organization looks forward to a very successful crop year in which millions of additional consumers worldwide begin including California almonds in their daily diets," Waycott said.