Nuts for almonds

Almonds overtake grapes as the second-most valuable crop in California

Almonds are now the second-most valuable agricultural commodity in California, still behind dairy for the top spot but overtaking grapes for the first time.

Almond production has skyrocketed over the past 20 years, due in part to increased almond-per-acre productivity, according to a University of California press release. In the 1980s, a good yield was 1,400 pounds per acre; in 2011, the average haul was 2,670 pounds of almonds per acre. California produces 100 percent of the nation’s almonds and 75 to 80 percent of the world’s supply. In 2011, the state’s almond industry was worth $3.87 billion, edging out table, wine and raisin grapes at $3.86 billion.

“Even with this record production, we have more demand than we have supply,” said Bob Curtis of the Almond Board. “The driver behind that is nutrition studies that show almonds are a healthy food and snack.”