When the upcoming holiday season arrives, you just might want to thank your lucky stars for California.
All of the baking in the family kitchen will taste better thanks to our fall bounty — to name a few: figs, dates, grapes, raisins, persimmons, pomegranates, citrus and tons and tons of nuts.
Did I mention nuts?
The 2011 California walnut crop should come in at about 485,000 tons, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. That’s just a tad down from last year’s record volume.
If the estimate holds, however, it will be the state’s second largest, which will translate to plenty of promotable walnuts.
Best of all, quality is going to be very high, grower-shippers said.
Lest you forget, California produces 99% of the domestic walnut supply.
The NASS forecast for California almonds is a record 975,000 tons, 20% more than last year’s record crop.
Prices are expected to remain strong, but blame that on global demand continuing to exceed supply.
Export markets also like our walnuts. They gobble up 60% of them, according to the California Walnut Board. Same goes for pistachios.
No need to panic, though, if the first cartons of California pistachios are a bit late arriving.
Just about everything grown in California has been a week to 10 days late this year, thanks to a cool, wet spring.
Like walnuts, pistachio volume should drop slightly this year, but everything is relative.
From 2006-10, California pistachio volume increased more than 80%, and hundreds of acres of new orchards are close to maturing.
Again this season, quality and condition are rated good, grower-shippers said.
Rise of pecans
The pecan is the growing baby of the California nut industry.
Among pecan producing states, California has climbed to eighth — well behind the giants of Georgia, New Mexico and Texas.
Traditionally an alternate bearing crop in California, this should be an up year for the state’s pecan grower-shippers.
The forecast is 225,000 tons, according to the California Pecan Growers Association.
Research in recent years has found the nut category to be loaded with health benefits — worth mentioning to holiday season shoppers, for all those retailers out there.
And if your waistline grows a bit this fall, please forgive California for its role in that.
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