Escalating Cost of Growing Almonds
Growing almonds isn't all it's cracked up to be.
The next time you're enjoying a ice cream bar coated with almonds or a salad with toasted almonds, think not only about the honey bees, but the growers.
The Almond Board of California recently reported that "Despite the higher yields and increased efficiencies California almond growers have gained over the years, the costs associated with growing almonds have risen dramatically while net returns per acre have shrunk."
A study by Cooperative Extension Specialist Karen Klonsky of the UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics showed that the total cost of producing an acre of almond is $3,897.
Yes, one acre.
Klonsky analyzed costs for an assumed 40-acre orchard in the northern San Joaquin Valley with 16-foot-22-foot spacings, 124 trees per acre, microsprinkler irrigation, and a 25-year orchard life.
The cultural costs totaled $1,752 or 45 percent of the total cost of production.
Cultural costs? Think pruning, weed control, pickup and ATV use, pollination, irrigation and fertilization, disease, and pests (insects and gophers).
Pollination--that would be the honey bees--accounted for $280 per acre or 16 percent of the cultural costs. (California has some 750,000 acres of almonds, and each acre requires two hives for pollination.)
Overall, next to cultural costs, the cost of land proved to be the second-highest expense, followed by production costs, cost of trees, and equipment.
"Applying this cost scenario to a price of $1.90 per pound, Klonsky calculated the break-even point would require a 2000 pound-per-acre yield," the board reported in its March newsletter.
And you thought growing almonds was easy?
In the Pink