California’s total almond acreage dropped again in 2023, this time by about 74,000 acres, making two years in a row that acreage has decreased, something that has not happened since at least 1995, according to a new report from Land IQ to the Almond Board of California (ABC).
Total acreage dropped from just under 1.64 million acres last year to about 1.56 million in 2023, even though bearing acres – orchards producing almonds and planted in 2020 or earlier – increased slightly to 1.37 million acres compared with 1.34 million acres at this time last year. But the amount of non-bearing acreage – new orchards planted in 2021, 2022 or 2023 – sank about 105,000 acres from 294,000 acres in 2022 to 189,000 acres in 2023, according to the Land IQ 2023 Standing Acreage Final Estimate.
“The latest Land IQ California almond acreage analysis continues to point to a reduction in total acreage driven by fewer new plantings and an increase in orchard removals,” said Richard Waycott, ABC president and CEO. “The 1.37 million bearing acreage in 2023 established a new record, reflecting plantings in 2020 or earlier, but going forward, the analysis points to a lowering of bearing acreage in 2024.”
Orchard removals increased again in 2023 to about 83,000 acres as of Aug. 31, compared with 60,400 acres removed in 2022 and continuing a trend of an increasing pace of removals that started in 2021, according to the accompanying Land IQ 2023 Removal Update. That contributes to the analysis pointing to fewer acres next year and possibly beyond, Waycott said.
In addition, nearly 41,000 acres are classified as either stressed or abandoned. They were included in the standing acreage total because the orchards “may have the ability to recover,” Land IQ said.
The estimates come from multiple lines of evidence, including agronomic and remote sensing knowledge, robust on-the-ground verification, customized image analysis, artificial intelligence and more. Land IQ said the 2023 standing acreage estimate is 98.8 percent accurate.
Land IQ’s acreage estimates are commissioned by ABC to provide statistical transparency and a robust picture of California almonds to industry stakeholders around the world. In 2018, ABC 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 more than a decade of research.