Monday, October 16, 2006

US: pistachio farmers harvest a lighter crop

A later and lighter California pistachio harvest continues in the Central Valley. Farmers say they're finding fewer pistachios in their orchards, and that crop volume may be down as much as 20 percent compared to a year ago. Warm weather was a factor in making for a smaller harvest that at first expected.

“They don’t bloom uniformly without enough chilling hours. We figure we need about 1,000 hours of chilling,” says Tom Coleman, a Madera County pistachio farmer explaining the pistachio tree’s need for enough cool weather during the bloom. “We had erratic spring weather so they did not bloom uniformly,” Mr. Coleman says. “Consequently, we’ll have a lot of nuts that will be left on the tree because they were not pollinated so they will have nothing inside of the,”

Mr. Coleman says consumers should not see any impact because of a carryover of pistachios from last season's crop that should ensure steady supplies and prices. But Mr. Coleman says he sees demand for pistachios remaining strong for years to come. “People are looking toward healthy snack foods. Pistachios are right in there,” he says.

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