In 2020, walnut growers in California are about as high tech as you can get. The nuts are ready for harvesting when the hulls start to split, usually starting as early as September and continuing on until November. The nuts are shaken from the trees by big machines. Mechanical sweepers make rows. Another machine gathers them and takes them to the processing plant. They are mechanically hulled as soon as possible and then quickly machine-dried to reduce the chance of spoilage. Then other machines sort, crack, size, scan, and package them. Here is a video on the California walnut harvest that shows you visually how the harvest is done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv01CknUHPg.
Current Walnut Production Of California
California productivity is very high. While the world average is about one ton of nuts per acre, many California growers get as many as three tons per acre.
Annual world production is at about a billion and a quarter pounds. The United States grew by nearly half a billion pounds in 2000. China has developed tens of thousands of acres of new orchards in recent years, and is now threatening America’s role as the walnut king of the world. Turkey, which for years was number two, has slipped to third place in world production .
Global walnuts grown in 2017 was 2.1 million pounds. United States is the leader in worldwide production production in 2017. Still at 590,000 tons even if the farmers forecast down 5 percent from 2016. Walnuts fields are taking up more land in California with lower yields. Correspondingly, this is due to bad weather conditions and water supply issues. During times of excessive heat in the summer, growers even apply sunburn prevention to trees. World wide exports from American walnuts account for a substantial portion of output. A record 475,000 tons are exported which is about approximately 75% of all walnuts grown in America. The current walnut production of California mostly become exports going to China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam.
The Future Of Nut Production
Walnut consumption has been on the rise for many years. This rise is in line with population trends. The macadamia, brazil nut, almond, peanut and many more have a worldwide demand that is growing faster then farmers can grow and ship them. (Don’t miss the full History of Macadamia Nut Production too!) While 2018 is currently looking like a single down year in an otherwise upward trend, the future will show that with continued low prices will bring production increases.