Walnuts expect to hit 780,000 tons

U.S. Department of Agriculture expects to see a 19% increase in walnut production over last years 653,000 tons

TULARE COUNTY – In many respects 2020 has been a down year. But agriculturally walnuts are expected to make record gains.

The United States Department of Agriculture is estimating California walnut production to be a record 780,000 tons. Up 19% from 2019’s production of 653,000 tons.

The forecast is based on 380,000 bearing acres, up 4% from 2019’s estimated bearing acreage of 365,000.

A warm and dry January and February meant growers started irrigating early. The 2020 chilling hours were low. Leaf-out was prolonged, which resulted in uneven canopy and nut development. April rains increased blight risk. Nut sets looked good, with reports of tree limbs heavy with nuts. Harvest is expected to begin in early September, ahead of last year.

Survey data indicated an average nut set per tree of 1,197, up 22% from 2019’s average of 983. However, growers fear a larger crop will continue to bring prices down.

Lumber prices triple

Lumber prices have surged to a fresh record high of $932 per 1000 board feet in August amid continuing high demand from the renovation and new home markets. Prices are triple what they were in May. Alongside the strong demand were a supply shortage as mills failed to anticipate the coronavirus pandemic setting off a building boom.

Plans for 20-acre solar farm in Visalia Industrial Park

Sunshine Reality/Dimension Energy plans to erect a 4-megawatt solar farm at 7227 West Doe on 20 acres in the Visalia Industrial Park. The project is part of Southern California Edison’s community solar program.

COVID brings less farm work

California’s Employment Development Department reports that agricultural employment in 2020 was 20% to 30% lower than in 2019, with the largest drop in June 2020.

The reductions in agricultural employment varied by county. Agricultural employment in Fresno County was down five percent in spring and summer 2020 compared the same period of 2019, down 25 to 35 percent in Kern County, and down 35 to 45 percent in Monterey County.

33% drop in Tulare County

In Tulare County as of July there were 12,100 fewer farm jobs compared to July 2019, the height of the summer harvest season for many crops. There were 27,100 workers in the fields vs 39,2000 the year before. That is about a one third decline.

Kings County was hit less hard with farm jobs dropping 1,000 from 8,200 to 7,200 in July, year over year.

Observers say grocery store sales for many crops are higher but restaurant sales are way down.

Goshen gets a Starbucks

Starbucks has opened a location in Goshen east of the new Betty Drive interchange. It the latest national retailer to see a future in this Hwy 99 community. In the works are two large fueling stations with more food choice including a new Burger King.

Furniture company taking over Rogers Jewelry space on Caldwell

Rogers Jewelers may be gone from Caldwell Avenue in Visalia but a next door furniture store will expand into the 5,000-square foot space says property owner George Ouzounian. Mattress specialists Drop Box has leased the space and will expand their retail store in Visalia.

Homeless advocates plan village in Visalia

Homeless advocates Salt and Light, based in Tulare, are negotiating with Tulare County to site a micro-home village in Visalia. The potential site includes locations both north and south of the county owned Government Plaza complex on south Mooney on open land. The nonprofit plans to build intentional, master-planned communities designed to lift people experiencing chronic homelessness off the streets of Tulare County.

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