California almond growers are expected to harvest 1.5 billion meat pounds, up 8 percent from the 2007 crop and 3 percente from the May subjective forecast.

The forecast, released by the California Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento, is based on 660,000 bearing acres.

Production of Nonpareil, the most widely grown variety, is forecast at 538 million meat pounds, 3 percent above last year's deliveries.

The California 2008 almond set is very strong, and a record high yield per acre and production is forecast, according to the ag statistics service

This year’s bloom arrived three weeks later than normal, but was nearly perfect. It progressed quickly, lasting only 10 days compared with the three-week average. Overlapping bloom between varieties was outstanding, resulting in good cross-pollination, and there was an adequate supply of bees to pollinate the crop.

Almond tree limbs in many locations are bowing under the weight of the heavy crop.

The average nut set per tree is 7,452, less than 1 percent above 2007. The nonpareil average nut set of 7,079 is up less than 1 percent from last year’s set. The average kernel weight for all varieties sampled was 1.43 grams, 3 percent below last year.

The July forecast is based on actual nut counts in respresentative orchards, whereas the May suject forecast is based on how growers responded to questionnaires sent by the ag statistics service.

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