Each year we update a graph on alfalfa versus almond acres in California, and the latest update tells one of the more remarkable stories in California agriculture. California led the nation in alfalfa hay production for many years, but it has dropped to number four behind South Dakota, Idaho, and Montana. Alfalfa hay acres in California have dropped 50 percent in the past 13 years, with the latest estimate from USDA at 560,000, the lowest acres on record dating back to 1921, and it compares to 1.1 million acres in 2006.

Almond acres in California in 2019 were estimated at 1,470,000 acres (both bearing and non-bearing), up 6 percent from 2018 and nearly double the 755,000 acres in 2006. According to sources, the almond industry in California has created such a strong overseas market that there continues to be profitability growing almonds, even with the significant growth in acres and production the past 13 years.

Seth Hoyt

Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.