California nut growers resembled professional baseball catchers this year grabbing every curveball, changeup, and fastball thrown their way as changing weather patterns kept producers on their toes.

“It’s amazing the challenging weather we’ve gone through this season,” said Jim Peart, an almond grower in Arbuckle located on the western side of the Sacramento Valley.

Peart began harvest in late September and finished in early October.

“The good weather during most of the harvest period was a godsend,” Peart said.

Peart and his father Don are partners in Don Peart Ranch, a 400-acre almond operation in Colusa County. The father-son team grows Nonpareil (50 percent of the crop), plus the Butte, Monterey, Peerless, Winters, and Wood Colony varieties. The family harvests and hulls their crop.

Peart and other nut growers in the West battled wet and cold spring weather conditions. Peart also experienced cooler than normal summer temperatures.

As a result, the Peart’s Nonpareil crop is about 25 percent smaller this year at about 1,500 pounds per acre. Last year’s yields topped about 2,000 pounds/acre. Peart links the production shortfall to the wet bloom period.

“The cool, wet spring caused a wet bloom period which did not provide good pollinating weather as we’ve had in the past,” Peart said. “I was surprised by the smaller Nonpareil crop. I knew the crop would be off but didn’t think it would be this much.”

Peart is pleased with the low number of rejects, in the one-half of one percent range, from insects and other factors.

While the official farm production statistics were not immediately available, Peart expects the pollinator varieties will yield an average crop in the 2,000 to 2,300 pounds/acre range. The quality of the entire crop looks good.