California's almond production is expected to be down more than 2 percent from last year's record 2 billion pounds, according to an estimate issued by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The service pegs this year's crop at 1.95 billion pounds.

Yield is expected to be 2,270 pounds per acre, down 4.6 percent from the 2013 yield of 2,380 pounds per acre, according to a news release.

Bearing acres is expected to be 860,000.

With the one of the earliest blooms in memory, the crop is developing faster than last year and harvest is expected to begin earlier.

Water remains a concern for growers, many of whom had to irrigate during the normally wet winter.

NASS based its subjective estimate on telephone interviews of selected growers between April 15-29.

The service will issue its objective estimate, based on counting almonds on branches in representative orchards, June 30.