Almond blossom in the Axarquía. / E. Cabezas

Growers advised to “hold on” to their almonds until the price goes up

The rain in the spring has delayed the growth cycle and the harvest is expected to be reduced in Spain and in California

Eugenio Cabezas
EUGENIO CABEZAS Malaga

The almond harvest is under way in Malaga province at present, somewhat later than usual because of the rain in the spring, and the Asaja young farmers’ association is recommending that they “hold on” to the almonds until they fetch a better price.

The situation is disconcerting, according to Asaja. “This year, like with everything else, the shortage of water and the high temperatures have resulted in a reduced harvest,” said the president of the Malaga branch of the association, Baldomero Bellido.

“And not only are there fewer almonds, but the big companies aren’t even buying yet, so prices will drop unless we hold on to our supplies,” he said. The association is also concerned at the way costs have been going up.

The biggest almond producers in the world are California (USA) and Spain, but the balance is heavily weighted towards the American producers, whose harvest is 11% lower this year, at 1,190,000 tonnes compared with 1,350,000 last year.

In Spain, production is expected to be down by 29.27%, at 61,684 tonnes, of which 29,940 tonnes are grown in Andalucía.

The most recent average price paid in the Cordoba market for almonds was 3.9 euros per kilo (for last year’s almonds), whereas a year ago it was 4.20 euros per kilo and the harvest was bigger than this year, “which is incomprehensible,” said Bellido. This is why he is recommending that growers hold on to their stock and wait for the price to compensate for the high production and harvesting costs.

At present almonds are mainly grown in the north of Malaga province, La Axarquía and the Guadalhorce area. Some farmers are starting to plant almond trees in areas where irrigation and mechanised harvesting are possible, but this crop is in decline in traditional areas where the land is very dry and the terrain is very steep, due to the difficulty and costs involved.