FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE)- Experts are forecasting California will produce 320 million fewer pounds of almonds this year.

Last year was a record year for California almond production reaching 3.12 billion meat pounds.  A revised USDA estimate now forecasts almond production this year to reach 2.8 billion meat pounds.

Sanger almond grower John Chandler says factors including heat and lack of water are known to make for lighter almonds crops, “The lack of water can have a big effect. If you’re shorting the almonds water that are on the tree they can lose weight. You might not have nice big plump almonds. You might have smaller, shriveled almonds. That’s a reduction in weight. That can affect it.  It’s also the tree. It may not want to keep as many. We have what we call a June drop.  Some growers might have seen more drop in June.”

Chandler thinks the USDA’s revised estimate for lower almond production fits what farmers are seeing, “Looking at the numbers I would say that this current estimate that came out coming down by that 10% is probably more reflective of what’s going on in the field.”

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen says it’s one of many expected effects in limited water.  “The drought has made a great shortage of water here in the San Joaquin valley where a lot of almonds are grown and so therefore we are starting to see ramifications for what the drought numbers are projected to be for this year.”

The actual extent of effects of heat and drought will be measured after harvest, which takes place in August and September.  Chandler says, “ It’s going to be an interesting year for almonds. Our prices have been kind of low for almond growers. But the demand this year is really picking up. The last I saw it could be up almost 20% for almond growers with this reduction in the estimate and this increase in demand for people to eat almonds it will be interesting to see what happens to the price. For growers we’re growing these almonds and trying to get the best price by providing the best product. And so hopefully that comes to fruition and we see a little bit of improvement in the prices as these two elements demand and supply in the market.”