Feds trim state's almond crop estimate

The federal government today trimmed its estimate of the state's almond crop by 7 percent, welcome news to growers worried about an oversupply.

The 2009 harvest is projected at 1.35 billion pounds, versus 1.45 billion in the first estimate in early May, the National Agricultural Statistics Service said.

It announced the new estimate at noon at the Modesto headquarters of the Almond Board of California. The state supplies more than 80 percent of the world’s supply, and the federal projections are closely watched because they can affect prices.

The May estimate was based on a telephone survey of growers. Today's number is from measurements of the actual nuts by federal crews.

"This ought to give some traction to prices, because right now, growers are barely breaking even," said Barret Arakelian, field representative for Del Rio Nut Co. near Livingston.

Almonds are second only to milk among farm products in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.