One of Stanislaus and Merced counties’ top-producing crops continued to grow in acreage throughout the state in 2021, though final estimates are slightly lower than they were at the beginning of the year.   

According to Land IQ’s 2021 Standing Acreage Final Estimate, total standing almond acreage increased to 1,662,633 total acres in 2021, up from 1,552,754 total acres the year prior. Despite the over 100,000 acre increase, the final bearing acreage estimate represents a decrease from the initial estimate released in the spring.   

Land IQ’s initial estimate for total bearing acreage in April 2021 – which reflects standing acreage that will be productive during the 2021/2022 harvest – was 1,323,722 acres.    This estimate takes into account both young orchards coming into production and orchards removed or estimated to be removed. The final estimate for bearing acreage represents a 14,000 acre decrease from that number.   

The 2021 final acreage estimate is 352,875 non-bearing acres (defined as those orchards planted in 2019, 2020, and 2021), 1,309,759 bearing acres (defined as anything planted in 2018 and earlier) and 1,662,633 total acres (defined as total standing acres during the growing season of 2021).

In 2018, the Almond Board of California first commissioned Land IQ, a Sacramento-based agricultural and environmental scientific research and consulting firm, to develop a comprehensive, living map of California almonds. The map is the result of nearly a decade of research, and because Land IQ’s approach does not rely on surveys or extrapolation, it has an accuracy of 98% or greater.

Beginning in 2019, ABC started a mapping process with Land IQ in which two acreage estimates will be released annually: the initial estimate of bearing acreage in the spring and the final estimate, with both bearing and non-bearing acreage for the same production year, delivered in the fall. In addition to the acreage estimates, Land IQ will annually produce an estimate of removed acreage.   

2021 saw growers grapple with not only the continuing pandemic, but also limited water. The report shows that drought impacts may have had a hand in an increase of acreage removed year-over-year.   The Land IQ data estimated 56,949 acres of almond trees were removed this year, nearly 10,000 acres more than the initial projection in April, and 18,132 acres more than were estimated as removed in 2020.      

The report shows that most counties had more removals in the final version versus the initial estimate, with Southern San Joaquin counties showing the biggest increase. There were 44,303 acres removed from Sept. 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 and 12,646 acres removed from April 1, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2021. In Stanislaus County, 6,384 acres were removed in 2021 and 1,868 were abandoned and may have a chance to recover.   In Merced County, 6,065 acres were removed and 2,500 abandoned in 2021.

Merced County had a total of 144,138 total almond acres in 2019, the latest year’s numbers available and Stanislaus had 179,860 total acres.

 Almonds were Stanislaus County’s top-producing crop in 2020, having a $1.12 billion value representing 32% of the total commodity value. Almond pollination was the No. 8 crop last year as well, accounting for 3% of total commodity value at nearly $89 million.

In Merced County Almonds were the second highest crop, with a gross production value of $470,603,000, which is a 12% increase from 2019. 

For more information about the Land IQ estimates, visit  www.almonds.com.