The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service California Field Office released the annual crop estimate for walnuts, predicting the annual yield to be 470,000 short tons.

Higher than last year's crop of 461,000 short tons, the 2012 estimate suggests the second largest crop on record and will be confirmed in February 2013. According to California Walnut Commission board member Carl Cilker, "We look forward to this year's crop as demand for California walnuts continues to rise. The trees look to be in good shape; we expect the new crop to be larger than last year, while still meeting California's remarkable quality standard."

The California walnut industry is made up of more than 4,000 walnut growers and more than 80 walnut handlers. California walnuts account for more than 99% of the commercial U.S. supply and control roughly three-fourths of world trade.  In the 2010 crop year, approximately 40% of available product shipped within the domestic market and 60% was shipped to export markets, making California walnuts the fourth largest California export.

"People enjoy eating walnuts because they taste good and are convenient," explains Dennis A. Balint, CEO of the California Walnut Commission.  "More importantly, walnuts are a heart-healthy[1], nutrient dense food.  To date, the industry has supported more than 80 published health research studies in the areas of cardiovascular health, cancer, diabetes, cognitive function and other diseases of aging."

Additionally, walnuts are the only nut that contain a significant amount (2.5 grams per ounce) of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid required by the human body as well as antioxidants, protein and fiber.[2]

[1] "Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease." U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2004.

[2] Please note: One ounce of walnuts provides 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13 g of polyunsaturated fat, including 2.5 grams of alpha-linolenic acid - the plant-based omega-3; 2g of fiber; 4g of protein, 3.68 mmol/28 g of antioxidants.