Despite his concerns about NOW, Cummings is optimistic about the prospects for this year’s almond crop. The 2012 crop carryout could fall short of year end demand, he notes. “That’s very bullish for prices for this year’s crop,” Cummings says. “Although prices for 2013 almonds currently are below 2012 level, they’re holding in there pretty well. All in all, this should be a good year for almond growers.”

The early outlook for his two walnut varieties – Howard and Chandler – is less clear. Winds up to 30 to 40 miles per hour on almost a daily basis in April didn’t help his crop.

“I don’t remember an April with winds like we had this year,” Cummings says. “They sucked the moisture out of the trees. At the same time, we were afraid to irrigate the fields for fear that the trees would blow over.”

Those winds dried out the blossoms from a bloom that wasn’t that strong to begin with, he adds. That hurt the nut set. As a result, he says, his walnut production this year could be off as much as 15 percent from last year.

His walnuts are maturing about a week earlier than normal. The nuts have reached full size, and the kernels are starting to solidify, Cummings notes.

The dry weather this spring has made for low blight pressure in his walnut orchards and so far insect activity has been low, too. Codling moth, however, could be problematic.

“In view of the high navel orangeworm pressure, we’re being extra careful in controlling the codling moth to minimize their feeding sites and limit the ports of entry into the walnuts for the navel orangeworm,” he says.

Like other Sacramento Valley growers, Cummings expects to receive 75 percent of his allocation of surface water for his orchards this year. However, with water tables continuing to drop, he’s paying extra attention this season to several of his wells that have gone dry in the past. “So far, so good,” Cummings says. “But, between the water situation, the insect pressure and the threat of sunburn to the crop, there’s still a lot of summer left before we get the crop in.”

He’s looking forward to receiving attractive prices for his walnuts. “There’s a tremendous demand for walnuts,” he says. “Buyers have been beating down the doors for the last three years, and prices are awesome. Currently, walnuts are netting over $1.50 per pound in-shell. That’s one heck of a price. If California’s walnut production is off a bit this year, prices should remain strong for this year’s crop.”

This report is from Tree Nut Farm Press, a twice-monthly electronic newsletter published by Western Farm Press during the growing season. This edition was sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection.  If would like to receive Tree Nut Farm Press go to the Western Farm Press home page (westernfarmpress.com) and sign up for it and other Farm Press electronic newsletters.

 

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