Small Pistachios, Big Yields

Oct 15, 2021

California pistachio growers are pleasantly surprised with their harvest this year. Though the nuts be but little, the acreage was fierce.

This year’s California pistachios had an uphill battle on their way to the second-largest crop on record (about one billion pounds).

The comeback crop: Pistachios are alternate bearing, which means higher yields are expected every other year. This year was an “off” year, so producing just under last year’s 1.05 billion pounds leaves the industry shell-shocked. In addition, the drought in the West was expected to roast that extra yield.

How important are pistachios? Well, if California ag commodities were a basketball team, pistachios would be a starter. They are No. 4 behind milk, almonds, and grapes. In 2020, those little pistachios brought in a cracking $2.87B.

And because the crop is drought resistant, and water availability is a little nutty in the West, farmers are planting more pistachios, according to American Pistachio Growers President Richard Matoian.

That works out because global demand for pistachios is also rising, especially in Europe, China, and Hong Kong. About 65 to 70% of U.S. pistachios are exported. Cha-ching.

Down the road: After this pleasant surprise, the industry is looking forward to what happens next year during an “on” year.