Almonds May Surpass Dairy as California's Main Crop

Dairy farmers in California are planting almonds—a crop set to increase by one-third to 3 billion pounds in 2021—to take advantage of the plant-based milk boom.

Almond yield in California is predicted to increase to 3 billion pounds—from its current 2.25 billion pounds—in 2021, due in part to dairy farmers opting to plant almonds instead of producing animal-based milk. Speaking to media outlet Foodnavigator USA, Almond Board of California CEO Richard Waycott explained dairy farmers “might have traditionally planted x-hundred acres of corn or silage for their dairy herds but are now sourcing that from out of state and diversifying into almonds.” California’s almond farmers have increased irrigation efficiency and practiced better crop management in recent years, Waycott said, making the industry more profitable to those looking to enter into the plant-based milk industry, which is predicted to be worth $35 billion by 2024. “Overall, I think California will be a smaller agricultural state than it has been,” Waycott said, “and a smaller dairy state in [the] future, but I’m very confident about the almond crop and all the outreach we’re doing in our industry." A recent report compiled by Bloomberg revealed that 350,000 acres of almond groves were incorporated into California’s agricultural land in the previous decade, while the number of dairy cows in the state dropped by 10,000 in the first half of 2016.

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