“It’s truly a big crop,” says Mike Kelley of the endless stream of trucks delivering as many 8 million to 12 million pounds of Nonpareil almonds a day to the Central California Almond Growers Association’s plants at Kerman and Sanger, Calif.

Kelley is president and CEO of the cooperative, the largest almond huller and sheller in the world.

This year’s harvest for association members started a little over a month ago, about two weeks later than normal, due to cool weather in the spring. By the time growers had nearly completed delivering Nonpareils and had moved on to their next-maturing varieties four weeks later, 180 million pounds of field run product had been delivered to the two hulling and shelling facilities.

At one point, daily shipments hit 240 truckloads — 36 loads higher than the previous one-day record. When this year’s harvest is done, he expects to have received another 180 to 190 million pounds of almonds.

He expects this year’s harvest to wrap up by the end of October.

“The weather should be very cool when those last varieties come in,” says Kelley, “and that causes me some concern.”

Until grower members began shaking their trees, Kelley doubted California’s 2011 harvest would reach the 1.95 billion meat pounds predicted by USDA/NASS in its 2011 objective measurement report in early July. That projected tonnage represented 19 percent more than last year’s record statewide production of 1.64 million meat pounds.

He thought the final total would actually be about 10 percent less than that prediction. Now, he’s much less sure.

Read more of Kelley's comments about the 2011 San Joaquin Valley almond crop at http://enews.penton.com/enews/farmpress/treenutfarmpress/current where you can see the most recent issues of Tree Nut Farm Press and subscribe to the free enewsletter that is emailed twice monthly through the growing season. It is sponsored by Cheminova.