Category Archives: Almond Crop

Almonds: Growing Up Sustainable

This article is brought to you by Jen’s Reviews.

In addition to providing a safe and stable supply of almonds, California’s community of more than 6,800 almond farmers is committed to using sustainable agricultural practices that are economically viable and based upon scientific research, common sense and a respect for the environment, neighbors and employees. The result is a plentiful, nutritious, and safe food product.1

Almond Board of California (ABC) has been investing in research since 1973 and, to continue to help farmers navigate complex challenges, this year ABC invested $4.7 million in 82 independent, third-party research projects exploring next-generation farming and sustainability practices. These research projects cover a range of sustainable topics including irrigation efficiency, air quality, honey bee health, farming practices, the development of innovative production practices that lead to continued improvement in efficient and, and so much more.

When it comes to following sustainable agricultural practices, California Almond farmers and processors are progressive and continuously challenging themselves to do more. The California Almond Sustainability Program was established in 2009 in part to better understand the ongoing sustainability improvements of farmers across all production practices and to provide continuing education on these topics.

To date, nearly 450,000 acres of California Almonds are represented by completed assessments.

Water Matters: More Crop per Drop

All food takes water to grow and produce. So efficient water use and irrigation management have always been high priorities for California’s almond farmers. In fact, innovative farming and production developments over the past two decades have reduced the amount of water needed to grow a pound of almonds by 33%.2

How have they done it? Research shows that:

More than 70% of almond orchards report using water-saving micro-irrigation systems, far above the 42% average reported for California irrigation methods statewide.3,4
More than 80% of farmers report using demand-based irrigation in their orchards, which means they review a combination of weather, soil moisture, and the trees’ needs to determine irrigation strategies, rather than watering on a predetermined schedule.3
Working to Restore Groundwater

To help replenish depleted aquifers, ABC has partnered with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Davis, Land IQ, and Sustainable Conservation to determine the role California’s almond orchards can play in California’s sustainable water future. By harnessing excess seasonal floodwater and letting it flow onto dormant almond orchards, on-farm groundwater recharge may not only benefit underground aquifers, but the greater community as well. Preliminary findings indicate that 675,000 acres of California Almond orchards have moderately good or better soil suitability for groundwater recharge.5

Minimal Waste

Did you know that almond trees grow multiple products? In addition to the kernel that we eat, almond co-products include the almond hull, which is used to feed livestock, and the shells, which are used as livestock bedding. Even the trees are utilized at the end of their productive lives, creating alternative energy or being used to improve soil quality.

Almonds are not sold with waste products like skins, pits and shells. This means that the industry, not the end user, is responsible for and able to take advantage of high value, beneficial, uses of the hulls, shells, and woody material, rather than sending them to a landfill.

In addition to these traditional uses, ABC is focusing research investment on innovative new uses for these co-products including manufacturing needs across food, automotive, pharmaceutical and plastics.

Carbon Footprint

In addition to the continuous improvement of almond farming and production practices, California’s almond orchards provide inherent benefits as found in almond Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) research from UC Davis. This study demonstrated that California’s 130 million almond trees6 accumulate and store significant amounts of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, during their 25-year life cycles, and the utilization of almond co-products is key to reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact.

Should production advances and policy changes work hand in hand, the California Almond community could become carbon neutral or even carbon negative. At present, 50 percent of the industry’s carbon emissions are offset by the trees’ inherent carbon storage and current farming practices.7

Within the larger context of food, researcher Dr. Alissa Kendall states, “California almonds have a lower carbon footprint than many other nutrient-dense foods.”

A Perfect Home

California is one of the few places on earth with the Mediterranean climate necessary for growing almonds. Others with suitable climates include the area around the Mediterranean Sea, Australia, South Africa and Chile.

The climate, coupled with California’s rich soils, water availability and infrastructure, innovative technology, and research opportunities make it the most productive almond growing region in the world. In fact, California grows more than 50 percent of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

Creating Economic Value

Because of these ideal conditions, California produces more than 80% of the world’s almond supply and accounts for 99% of domestic supply.8 This creates a comparative advantage, which in turn creates economic value not just for farmers but for California as a whole. According to a study by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center, the California almond industry as a whole generates about 104,000 jobs statewide.

To put that into perspective, that’s about as many people as General Motors employs throughout all of North America. These jobs are generated across multiple industries resulting in more than $21 billion of gross revenue in California and adding about $11 billion dollars to the size of the state’s total economy.9

Farming for the Future

Over 90% of California almond farms are family farms, many owned and operated by third- and fourth-generation family farmers who live on the land and plan to pass it down to their children.10 Almond farmers recognize the need to carefully manage resources for current and future generations, and offer continued work for their employees while protecting their families, neighbors local communities and the environment.

For more information about our sustainability efforts, visit AlmondSustainability.org.

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Raw California Almonds see Record Demand

The latest statistics from the California Almond Board paint a rosy picture for the future of California’s largest export crop.

After two years of reduced October demand the 2016 crop showed record shipments of 235.5 million pounds in October – an increase of 45% from the same period last year. Almost all categories of raw almond nuts and raw organic almonds showed significant increases in both domestic and international shipments.

August to October Shipment totals rose to 607 million pounds compared to 431 million pounds during the same period last year.

International exports showed the biggest increases in raw almond nut demand boosted by the annual festivals in India and China and a decline in Spanish almond production.

Spain’s major almond producing region Castilla-La Mancha saw a net 50% drop in output, mainly due to drought, and early frost.

Experts note that the increase in demand for raw almond nuts led to an increase in wholesale prices in early November, but the price levels have moderated in recent weeks. Initially, almond prices increased by 10-20 cents per pound on many varieties.

According to the California Almond Board’s statistics, purchase commitments for California almonds rose to 587.4 million pounds compared to 445.9 million pounds last year. October alone saw an increase of 25 million pounds or almost 9%.

The increase comes after two consecutive years of declining demand. In 2014-15 demand had decreased to 458.8 million pounds and 2015-16 saw a further drop to 446.0 million pounds during the same period.

Because of the smaller Spanish crop shipments to the European Union were up 20% although shipments to China and Vietnam almost doubled while exports to India increased by over 60%.

California farms are expected to supply world markets with 2.4 to 2.5 billion pounds of almonds in the 2016-17 fiscal year. Despite some early rain in October the annual almond harvest was completed on schedule and without major problems.

Export House supplies organic and conventional almond varieties to customers throughout the United States. For more information contact AEH.

Sprouted Raw Almonds May Improve Nutrient Value

The latest trend in food consumption may be sprouting various vegetables and nuts.

It’s hard to visit a local farmer’s market or health food store without finding sprouts of broccoli, radishes or other healthy veggies. The young plants contain all the nutrients unlocked from the seed, in a form that can be easily digested by humans.

But recently retailers have begun marketing sprouted almonds as the best way to get all the nutrients contained in your favorite snack – raw organic almonds. After all, the almonds we enjoy are really just the seed of a fruit tree which could easily be planted and grown in the back yard.

The sprouting process is done commercially by many processors but can easily be done in your own home, if you pay attention to the proper methodology. The almonds are simply soaked for 12-18 hours in water, or until they begin to germinate. They are then removed and dried in a low temperature and low humidity environment.

Most experts recommend soaking almonds only up to 24 hours, making sure that you change the water 2-4 times.

Once they are dried the raw nuts can be stored much like the un-sprouted varieties – up to six months. But if you don’t want to take the time to dry the almonds they should be stored in your refrigerator for two or three days at most, before they should be eaten or converted to another almond product, such as almond paste or almond milk.

Some experts recommend using salt water to speed the process and enhance the final flavor but you can also use purified water, allowing the almonds to swell and germinate.

What’s the difference between raw nuts and the sprouted version? The answer lies in the enzymes. Many of the valuable nutrients in almonds are stored in forms that are not easily digestible. For example phosphorous is stored in an almond as phytic acid.

Phosphorous is an important nutrient because it increases energy levels and is promotes the functioning of other vitamins. A typical handful of almonds can contain over 350 mg of phytic acid. Phytic acid, can be processed by the human body but it restricts the amount of phosphorous the body absorbs and can also bind to other minerals and make them difficult to digest.

The germination process breaks down the phytic acid and leaves the phosphorous in a form which is easier for the human digestive tract to process and absorb. In fact, many experts recommend soaking almonds before making almond milk to remove the phytic acid.

These days, store shelves are filled with a variety of products from nutrition bars and breads that boast the use of sprouted almonds.

But whether you want to look for sprouted raw almonds or simply raw organic almonds you can be assured they contain a wealth of vitamins and nutrients that should be an essential part of your diet.

American Export House supplies organic and conventional almond varieties to customers throughout the United States. For more information contact AEH.

Make Sure to Include Raw Organic California Almonds in Your Wedding Plan

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Believe it or not, almonds have been part of wedding celebrations for centuries.

As far back as the Middle Ages, brides were known to give their guests small bags of raw almonds for luck. These almonds were the genetic relatives of raw California organic almonds we see grown throughout the state’s Central Valley.

The tradition of giving almonds was standard at Italian weddings in the 15th century when sugar was expensive and a small gift bag of almonds coated with sugar was considered a luxury, showing off the host’s wealth. Gradually, as sugar became more common, the practice became widespread.

Known as confetti to the Italians, these treats have become known as Jordan almonds and when encased in an organza bag, or even a metal box, are called bomboniere.

Other nationalities have also included almonds in their wedding ceremonies. Greek weddings also feature almonds or koufetta, placed in small bags placed on a silver tray. Middle Eastern weddings also feature almonds and consider them an aphrodisiac. Tradition also suggests that if a single woman places a small bag of almonds under her pillow, she will dream of her future husband.

Regardless of the nationality, the gift is always an odd number of almonds –sometimes 3 and often 5. Three almonds cannot be divided evenly and were thought to symbolize the strength of the union which could not be divided. Five almonds, on the other hand, represent the five wishes for the bride and groom: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity.

The sugar coating is said to symbolize a wish that the couple’s life together will be sweet.

These days, almost every wedding continues to include a bag of almonds as a small favor. The small organza bag adds a decorative touch to any table and they show guests that the bride and groom appreciate their attendance.

So, if you’re starting to plan your spring or summer wedding, include raw California organic almonds as a favor and continue a 500-year-old tradition.

American Export House supplies raw California organic and conventional almond varieties to customers throughout the United States. For more information contact AEH.

The California Almond Harvest is on

The California Almond Harvest is on
It’s harvest season and California’s largest crop is well on its way to retailers all over the world. And no, we are not talking about wine grapes.
Almonds are California’s largest crop and for the Central Valley that means there’s a “whole lot of shakin’ going on.”
That’s because the easiest way to harvest the 2 billion pounds of organic and conventional almonds that are grown in the state, is to literally shake them off the tree. Large and low tractor-like machines crawl under the almond tree canopy, stopping by each plant to extend a claw-like arm which grabs the tree and shakes the almonds to the ground.
If done at the proper time – when the hulls have split – it only takes a eight seconds to harvest a whole tree. The process has given rise to the saying that the harvest “shakes the l” out of the fruit since, in some sections of the state, the downed almonds are pronounced as “ahmond.” Thankfully, that has not become that popular since most consumers would probably find it a bit jarring.
Whatever you call them, the fruit is usually left on the ground for 3-5 days, to dry out a bit, before another machine, with huge brushes and fans, sweeps the crop into long piles. While the process may seem pretty straight forward, most farmers will tell you that there is an art to the sweeping process to make sure the top soil is not removed along with the crop. The piles are then vacuumed up into large containers.
Most small to midsize farms do not own their own harvesting equipment. Since the large devices are just used once a year, it makes little sense to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a machine. Custom farm equipment companies, which rent out equipment, and even part-time employees, have now filled the gap on many farms.
While the process is much more efficient that hand harvesting, it means that dirt twigs and anything else on the ground gets mixed with the fruit and considerable time has to be spent sifting the almonds from the debris.
But once the separation is complete, the processing to extract the almond kernel can begin. First, the outer hull is removed. You won’t find almond hulls on your grocery shelves, but they do contain a number of nutrients and they are edible by many farm animals, creating a food source for many cattle farms in the central valley. Almond hull dust, generated by the processing, is also recaptured and used as an additive to plant fertilizers.
Once the hulls are removed, almonds are still encased in shells, which are not edible. A series of treatments, during which the almonds and shells are gently squeezed results in the separation of the kernel from the shell. The shells are then sold for a number of uses including as bedding for farm animals, biomass fuel, fireplace logs and as part of manufactured construction material.
The almond kernel, which now recognizable as the familiar product most consumers know, is then ready for final hand sorting, processing and packaging for consumers.
American Export House supplies organic and conventional almond varieties to customers throughout the United States and the World. For more information contact AEH.

2016 Almond Crop: a quick Preview

Almond Crop

After a four year dreaded drought there is pleasant news for California Almond growers and buyers. Reasonably good rainfall accompanied by 105% of normal snowpack on the Sierra range is promising a much higher water supply which was subdued over the previous years. The current year`s crop has enjoyed a healthy bloom and favorable post pollination weather. Bees have now left the orchards and the overall crop is reported to be developing strongly. An assumption of 2150 lbs per acre average produce on approximately 920,000 acres finally resulting in a 2 Billion pound yield seems fair.

Non Pareil, leads the way as the dominant California grown variety followed by Monterey, Butte and Carmel. The overall acreage is not expected to increase this year as most growers are likely to stabilize their operations and are in the recovery mode from the long lasting drought.

Central California county ranking remains the same from an overall produce perspective. Fresno county remains on top followed by Kern and Stanislaus counties.

California exports almost 70% of its Almond produce. According to the Almond Board statistics country ranking by highest export volume for the recent period of August 2015 to February 2016 is as follows.

1. Spain
2. China
3. India
4. Germany

Certain markets such as China, India and the UAE are at present a little behind in shipment off takes as compared to last year. However European Union is somewhat up and has lately absorbed healthy shipments. European Industrial buyers have evidently stocked up for their early 2016 supplies resulting in a decent shipment volume.

Over the last six to eight weeks price volatility has subsided significantly. This indicates the much awaited correction to ensure stability and confidence in the international as well as the domestic market. The current trend suggests a move towards reaching price levels truly reflective of demand and supply equilibrium. The Chinese and Indian markets are expected to react much quickly to this welcomed change. The somewhat dormant off takes are likely to be replaced by vibrant Almond buying activity as the product becomes much more affordable for traders and final consumers.

As responsible members of the Almond community we welcome the much needed stability in prices and look forward to serving all our customers with a lot more vigor and enthusiasm.