California's almond growers are expected to harvest 1.45 billion pounds of shelled nuts this year, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate.

That's down 9.7 percent from the record 2008 crop of 1.61 billion pounds shelled.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service blames part of the decline on wet conditions during pollination and cool temperatures in the Sacramento Valley.

Freezing temperatures in March also damaged some orchards.

Still unknown is what toll the current drought will take as growers—particularly those on the San Joaqin Valley's west side—curtail irrigation.

The subjective survey estimate is based on a telephone survey of growers between April 23 and May 5 where they are asked to rank their crop.

The objective measurement survey, where technicians count and measure nuts on trees in representative orchards, will be released June 30.

The service estimates that there are 710,000 bearing acres of almonds in California.