Consumers are Nuts for Nuts!

Consumption of this nutrient-dense food is growing globally, particularly in middle- and upper-income countries.1 The U.S. tree nut industry (as a whole) is a net exporter.  Almond, walnut, pistachio and hazelnut orchards in the U.S. depends on exports for more than 50 percent of sales.2

Most of these orchards are in California, where climate change and weather variability are making life challenging for growers. Orchards in California face increasing temperatures and multi-year droughts, complicated by a decline in available labor to care for the tree crops as well as export market disruption due to trade uncertainty.

Improving orchard management practices, such as soil management with no-tillage, use of cover crops and soil microbes, optimal fertilization and irrigation management, can help growers produce more while climate-proofing their trees in difficult growing conditions.  Orchard owners can increase soil organic carbon and soil health, making their tree crops resilient during drought, while lowering production costs.

Agricultural service providers and advisors are key components of a sustainable agri-food system. Private agricultural retail service providers share the latest advice and innovation technologies such as data management and precision agriculture systems and customized services to boost the productivity of crops, livestock, orchards and fisheries.

Orchard operators, such as Pacific Gold Agriculture (PGA), integrate operational and financial management technology to optimize sustainable farming practices.  Customized crop plans for each orchard detail cultural practices at the input level, allowing the full crop year (from fertilization, pest control, irrigation, energy, and staffing) to be measured and analyzed.

Using their proprietary technology platform, PGA benchmarks multiple factors impacting productivity and designs plans focused on fiscal, social, and environmental sustainability. This year, PGA received a Specialty Crop Grant from the California Department of Food & Agriculture to study the augmentation of water supply through on-farm groundwater recharge.

PGA brings an expertise in orchard management, crop processing and marketing, and asset management driven by land and water stewardship.  Their goals are to ensure that orchards move towards energy self-sufficiency, water efficiency, long-term soil fertility and traceability of their products for consumer knowledge.

 


 

  1. Nuts and Dried Fruits Statistical Yearbook 2017/2018, International Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation, file:///C:/Users/Ann%20Steensland/Downloads/1524481168_INC_Statistical_Yearbook_2017-2018.pdf
  2. Travis Minor and Agnes Perez. “Consumer demand for fresh fruit drives increases across sector.”  USDA ERS, Amber Waves, April 2, 2018.

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