The annual shaking of the almond trees has begun as local growers start harvesting a crop that could be especially promising this year for Kern County.
A recent federal estimate predicted California's 2019 almond harvest could fall 3.5 percent short of last year's total. It reflected concerns that cold, wet conditions during the almond bloom appeared to have limited bees' pollination activity.
But industry insiders continue to question the 2.3 billion-pound forecast, released in early July by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They see this year's total reaching as high as 2.5 billion pounds.
Whose forecast is more accurate could make a big difference in local agriculture revenues. If, indeed, a supply shortage develops, then prices will likely rise — and anyone with product to sell stands to benefit.
Kern may be in a particularly good position to cash in if there is a shortfall. That's because the county comprises the southernmost, warmest region of California's almond-growing acreage, which extends through much of the Central Valley.
"The further south, the better the crop. The further north, the worse the crop,” Wasco almond grower Terry Nachtigall said Tuesday.