- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
UC Agricultural Issues Center has released new studies estimating the cost and returns of establishing an almond orchard and producing almonds for three growing regions of California.
“These cost studies are valuable for agricultural producers all along the continuum – growers considering entering into a new crop production business, less experienced growers, and those with decades of experience,” said Emily Symmes, UC Cooperative Extension integrated pest management advisor for the Sacramento Valley. “The information in these cost studies allows growers to evaluate their production practices and associated costs relative to an exemplary hypothetical orchard specific to their geographic region, and can help with development of business models, crop insurance and lending.”
In 2018, almonds ranked third among California commodities with almond growers receiving nearly $5.5 billion in cash receipts.
The cost analyses are based on hypothetical farming operations of well-managed almond orchards, using cultural practices common to the region. Local growers, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors and supporting agricultural representatives provided input and reviewed the methods and findings of the studies.
“The recent almond updates for the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys reflect costs associated with the continually evolving conditions facing agriculture,” said Symmes, who co-authored the almond cost studies. “Some of the notable updates include labor, irrigation and pest management costs – all integral to producing and delivering a high-quality crop.”
The researchers based one study in the Sacramento Valley, one in the northern San Joaquin Valley and the other in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
The southern SJV study is based on an orchard that uses double-line drip irrigation, whereas the other two locations use microsprinkler irrigation. All are multi-year studies, estimating costs from removal of the previous orchard, through almond orchard re-establishment and the production years. The economic life of the orchards used in these analyses is 23 to 25 years.
Navel orangeworm (NOW) is a major pest in almond production; Symmes and her co-authors describe in detail the pesticide applications and winter sanitation methods for each location for NOW control and include the costs.
The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for orchard establishment, almond production, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead. A ranging analysis table shows net returns over a range of prices and yields.
The new studies are titled:
- Sample Costs to Establish an Orchard and Produce Almonds in the Sacramento Valley - 2019
- Sample Costs to Establish an Orchard and Produce Almonds in the Northern San Joaquin Valley - 2019
- Sample Costs to Establish an Orchard and Produce Almonds in the Southern San Joaquin Valley - 2019
The studies are available for free download at the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu. Sample cost of production studies for many other commodities are also available on the website.
For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact Donald Stewart at the UC Agricultural Issues Center at (530) 752-4651 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact a local UC Cooperative Extension advisor, find the UCCE office in your county at http://ucanr.edu/County_Offices. The Agricultural Issues Center is a statewide program of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
"On Wednesday, May 8, 2019, the State of California announced it would ban the use of chlorpyrifos by canceling registration of the pesticide by the Department of Pesticide Registration. Chlorpyrifos use in agriculture has been under federal and state regulatory review for the last several years. Chlorpyrifos for use in structural pest control and for sale in consumer products ended in 2000 due to a voluntary agreement between the manufacturers and EPA.
"University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) carries out the Land-Grant mission of University of California to seek scientific solutions to address society's needs and problems. As a part of UC ANR, the Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) provides research-based information to manage pests while protecting human-health and the environment. UC scientists have spent many years researching alternatives to chlorpyrifos and educating state-licensed pest control advisers on effective use of the alternatives. For example, improved integrated pest management of insects in almonds eliminated the need for winter application of chlorpyrifos on the 1,390,000 acres of almonds in California. Overall, this work contributed to the greater than 50% decrease in chlorpyrifos use in all of California agriculture from 2006 to 2016.
"In 2014, UC IPM started a two-year project, funded by California Department of Pesticide Regulation, to identify the pest-crop situations where there were no or few alternatives to chlorpyrifos. That project identified specific needs for additional research on alternatives to manage weevils and aphids in alfalfa, leaf-footed bug and stink bugs in almond, ants in citrus, and aphids and whiteflies in cotton. UC research and extension continues to seek solutions to these difficult pest management problems. Previous research in many other pest-crop situations had already identified and supported implementation of alternatives to chlorpyrifos.
"UC ANR will continue to work closely with the State of California and agriculture to protect the health of Californians and our environment while providing effective pest management solutions to farmers."
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