Thursday, September 17, 2009

R.L. “Pete” Turner September 17, 2009



The National Agriculture Statistics Service has announced the California 2009 walnut crop at 415,000 tons, down 5 percent from 2008 production. The crop survey was conducted between August 1 and August 22, 2009. NASS “objective” estimate is 16,000 tons more than the Handlers July “subjective” estimate (399,000 tons); and as of now, most of the walnut industry believe the crop will come in somewhere between these two numbers.

The official survey has the “nut set” for Hartley’s at 2001, up 34 percent and the Chandlers “nut set” at 1,346, down 6 percent. However, as he does every year, Vic Tolomeo, Director of NASS’s informed the industry that the “net set” carries very little weight in determining the overall tonnage of a variety.

As an example, Hartley’s, one of the industries oldest varieties has had no significant new plantings over the past 15 years; and are down to less than 40,000 acres. The production of Hartley’s is also declining and if we use the past four year average (1.5 tons/acre) we will have about the same tonnage as last year (60,000 tons). My projection for Hartley’s is 62,000 tons (up 2,000 tons) and Chandlers at 159,000 tons (down 18,000 tons).

Packers are now receiving the early varieties (Serr’s, Ashley’s, and Payne’s) and so far, they look OK. However, it will be another week before we can determine a trend for color, insect/mold and sunburn damage and oil-less nuts.

The August shipments of 31,000 tons (inshell eqv.) is another record shipping month; up 145 percent over last August (10,800 tons). Both export and domestic markets contributed to the record numbers.

California Walnut Shipment Recap

Month (August) 2007/08 Year to Date 2008/09 Year to Date Diff. (YTD)

Inshell Pounds (000) 63 118,768 378 173,549 54,781 (46%)
Shelled Pounds (000) 10,812 237,992 26,665 283,882 45,890 (19%)
Total (Inshell eqv. tons) 12,662 337,413 31,051 415,342 77,929 (23%)

The August shipments puts my final 2008 crop walnut supply and utilization carry-over (based on 43.2% “shell out rate”) at 54,000 tons. However, the “shell out rate” will most likely be adjusted once the final inventories have been tallied late this month by the California Walnut Board. My guess is the adjusted rate will be close to 44.0 percent, making the carry-over around 65,000 tons.


Although the 2009 crop is projected to be down from last years record crop, most of the industry believes that strong export demand and favorable exchange rates will continue to drive the market. Early trades seem to support this assumption and current booking activities have increase since the export opening prices were set last Friday.

The opening for Jumbo Hartley’s is $1.20, and Chandler Light Halves and Pieces 20% is $2.45. Most recent trading activities on both packs have been close to these numbers.

Jumbo Inshell Chandler’s are trading at $1.35 and I believe this will be short lived, especially if the Chandler crop comes in at the projected levels. Also, the USDA School Lunch Program will help keep the domestic shelled market and shipping levels up, at least through December when the program ends.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.



This is a great salad and works for your diet!

tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 c. thinly sliced red cabbage
1 Granny Smith apple, julienned
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
Whisk first 4 ingredients in bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Add cabbage and apple; sprinkle with walnuts.