EXECUTIV E update As we commence with managing our 2015 crop, we can look forward to strong global prices remaining in place as a result of the terrible challenges being faced by US growers. Of concern is the report of significant orchard loss, both of trees and also next year’s crop, as buds to generate their 2015 crop have been impacted. in 2014. With regard to managing this nutrition requirement well, the research of Patrick Brown on in season analysis is a valuable source of knowledge. The regional meetings also provided a gauge of what is strong grower support for an Australian Almond Centre if the funding
The strategy adopted by many of our growers during the height of our prolonged drought of removing older less productive trees has also been to the fore in California, and in some instances this severe water saving strategy has been forced onto younger orchards. Based on our experience of the length of time it takes for some stressed orchards to recover, the effect on global production may be felt for years after the rains and snow return to America’s west. This challenge to world supply comes during a period of growing consumer awareness of the wide usage ideas for almonds in various forms and the nutritional benefits of consuming almonds on a regular basis throughout the week. The health benefits of almonds continue to be proven as research and clinical trials reveal the more nuts consumed the greater the gain in areas of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and respiratory disease. These findings are helping almond sales to be more price resilient than might be expected, during a period when almond prices have risen over 50% in the past 18 months. The ABA is taking a leading role in educating Australians of the health benefits of almonds whilst the International Nut Council and the Almond Board of California lead the way in the global sense. The increase in price, growing consumer awareness and broadening usage of almonds in new products such as almond milk indicates the demand for almonds is being limited by supply. The impact of the drought on Californian production is clear, but what has not been as readily identifiable is why 2014 production in most Australian orchards is well down on 2013. Reports collected first hand from growers during the ABA’s June round of regional meetings indicated a wide range of results. Some growers had similar tonnages to the previous year whilst others had their poorest harvest yields from mature trees ever. Reports of reductions in crop of 20% were not uncommon. The latest crop estimates provided by industry marketers has the 2014 Australian crop pegged at 65,000 tonnes, a 12% reduction on the 2013 tonnage. This 12% loss of tonnage industry-wide is a concern, but it is even more of a concern given the industry’s initial estimates anticipated a substantial growth in crop size as the industry’s orchards continue to mature and fill the row space. An industry wide discussion forum has been held following the regional meetings facilitated by Ben Brown, the ABA’s Industry Development Manager. A few things that struck a chord amongst a myriad of contributing factors is that trees on hybrid rootstocks coped better with the prolonged heatwave and those that adjusted their fertiliser programs during the heavy 2013 crop fared relatively well
arrangements are acceptable. The Centre proposal is based on major and minor orchard research sites being established in the Riverland and Sunraysia depending on State Government funding support. The meetings provided guidance for the ongoing discussions with South Australian and Victorian governments as the offers of both are put together for the consideration of the Centre Committee and the ABA Board. The support and efforts for the Centre by government ministers, local members and departmental staff in both states has been appreciated as numerous funding options have been explored. The assistance of the industry members sitting on the Almond Centre Committee is also valued and again highlights a strength of our industry. Along with the voluntary contribution of over 40 industry participants, they have provided guidance not only to the programs and projects undertaken by the ABA staff, but also to the industry’s R & D priorities which feed into the Horticulture Australia funding system. The monitoring of research being undertaken by the Committees also adds value to projects undertaken by all researchers. The ABA AGM and Conference will be held on October 29-30 at Glenelg. In addition to an interesting line up of Australian presenters, Richard Waycott and Tim Birmingham from the Almond Board of California will present, as will Californian researchers Jim Adaskaveg on disease control and Neale Williams on pollination. Early registration for this increasingly popular event is recommended and appreciated.