Almond Market Update
By Bill Morecraft
Blue Diamond Almonds
Global Ingredients Division
The Beat Goes On….
Over the last week, Northern California has enjoyed some desperately needed rainfall. While the storms provided rain in the valley and snow in the very high Sierra’s, much more precipitation is required to improve the ongoing drought conditions. Conditions in the southern growing regions remain dry.
Doug Carlson, spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources was quoted in the Sacramento Bee on February 10, “As of one week ago Sunday, Folsom Lake had only 17 percent of its total capacity. The recent rains pushed it to just 19 percent of capacity – still barely one-third of what it should be for this time of year. The same was true for Lake Oroville, which swelled by 4 feet but still lagged below historic levels. And the recent downpour has had minimal affect on Shasta Lake. “We would need many more storms like this weekend to even approach normal.” Growers in the Central California Irrigation District are expecting 21 inches of water deliveries this year, while those in the Chowchilla and Madera Irrigations District are expecting no deliveries for the 2014 irrigation season.
The pace of 2013 new crop commitments was brisk in January at 180 million lbs, with prices rising steadily throughout the month. With January shipments of 160.2 million lbs, YTD shipments continue to track 5% above the prior year. The 2013 crop is 68-69% committed entering the 2014 crop bloom. With seven months remaining before new crop is harvested, inventories are tight for mid and larger pollenizer CPOs and inshell of all varieties.
North American demand continues a steady drumbeat, with the 17% increase in January shipments fueling 12% YTD growth. Shipments to Europe’s are up 22% YTD and the 57 million lb increase has more than offset the YTD decline in China of 45 million lbs. Demand has begun to return from China as the New Year holiday is behind us and inventories are depleted. India has been active on a steady basis, and the Middle East requires coverage for Ramadan.
California almonds are currently entering the bloom period for the 2014 crop. Bud development has begun in the north and central regions. Individual rows of early blooming varieties are exhibiting a scattering of open flowers, with the earliest plantings showing 5% to 15% bloom. Nonpareil and the California type varieties are progressing through the green tip stage, with advanced plantings showing a significant proportion of their buds in the pink stage. Moving eastward across the region, the bloom is running behind that found along the west side, with observers reporting only an occasional open flower visible in the Sonora.
Major upcoming milestones that will impact future market conditions include the impending bloom, post bloom weather, the California water supply and the Subjective Estimate in May. Looking forward, new plantings of almond trees in California continue, providing for long-term continued growth in global almond consumption.