Managing Walnut Production
Dan Sumner is a distinguished professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. And he's the director of the UC Agricultural Issue Center at UC Davis.
“You know, it takes a couple of years. And of course, whether you pull out an orchard, we saw some of that during the drought as well, where you say, gee, that orchard is going to come out sometime in the next three or four years, because prices are down,” Sumner said.
“I expect they'll be down, for a year or so. Maybe a guy could make that decision. So, I'll yank it now rather than later,” Sumner said. “And at the same time, it may make perfect sense for that same grower to plant new walnut trees, figuring seven or eight, 10 years from now, when I he gets into full production, the market will be back. So that's on the yanking the orchards.”
But expanding walnuts on new ground; that may not happen. Anytime soon said Sumner.
“Given current prices and long-term projections, some people are making, you may say, I'm not going to be devoting a lot of new ground for net expansion in walnuts. But, you know, when we'd go back with new cultivars and higher yields and different tree spacings---production can go up, even though we haven't increased the total number of acres in Walnut, and we may have fewer bearing acreage, at least for a few years,” noted Sumner.
Sumner said, despite the lower prices, walnuts are still a great crop for California. “For the long haul, walnuts seem like a reasonable thing. California can compete with the rest of the world,” he said.