US Walnut Market Update, 02.09.2022
The forecast for the 2022 crop is 720,000 inshell tons, which is 1% less than the 2021 crop. This is based on estimated bearing acreage of 400,000 acres, up 3% from the 2021 crop.
This figure is a surprise to many industry members who had been expecting production to approach 800,000 tons based on increased bearing acreage and visual evaluation of orchards. The forecast notes the effects of frost damage in some orchards, dry conditions throughout the winter/spring, and high temperatures during the summer growing season.
In evaluating the samples, nuts per tree are up slightly, and sizing appears in line with the prior season. However, nut weight is notably lower, along with a slight reduction in the percentage of sound kernels.
A couple of additional factors which may ultimately affect production but are not reflected in this forecast:
Extreme heat is forecast over the next 7-10 days in the growing region. Temperatures will reach in the mid-40 degree Celsius range just as the orchards are approaching harvest. This will likely lead to sunburn and darker color in some orchards.
Due to low pricing, many in the industry expect some orchards to go unharvested. This will likely be older orchards with lower production potential and varietals that are likely to produce a high percentage of light amber/amber kernels. Given the costs of harvest, hulling/drying, and shelling/packing, and looking at current market conditions for this product, some growers may elect to bypass harvest as the product would have little economic value.