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Tracing Tracy Territory

2020 bumper crop welcome news for walnut lovers

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walnuts

Walnut production increased by 19% in 2020.

Tracy area’s 2020 walnut harvest is moving forward under perfect harvest weather while contributing to a record-breaking California harvest.

All harvest indicators point to a 19% increase in California walnut production over last year. Additional acreage coming into production and solid yields have contributed the bumper crop.

The Tracy area walnut harvest has moved past the halfway point, but volume is still high, reported Chris Reece of Great Pacific Nut Co.

“Chandlers, a popular late-maturing variety, are now coming on strong,” he said. “Overall, it’s a quality crop with yields better than last year.”

Finding markets for the increased production is one major challenge facing growers, shippers and industry representatives.

In recent years, growing walnuts hasn’t been the greatest profit-producer for farmers as the price to growers and shippers had dipped to 70 or 60 cents a pound, but the outlook is beginning to brighten.

Walnuts have a growing popularity as a snack food, reported Jennifer Olmstead, marketing director of the California Walnut Board.

“While walnuts are not often thought of as a snack, our consumers are telling us otherwise,” she said in a press release.

And increased realization of the nut’s health benefits are another positive factor.

“Not only are walnuts a versatile ingredient (for food manufacturers and food-service operations), they are a powerhouse of nutrition,” Olmstead said.

Jack Mariani, who chairs the walnut board’s market-development committee, underscored walnuts’ contribution to healthy living: “A simple, convenient way to potentially improve overall health.”

Meanwhile back in Tracy, I’ve been doing my part in promoting walnut consumption by having nuts as a part of my lunch menu. Almonds are also included, but walnuts are increasingly becoming the more popular nut.

I’m buying my walnuts at the DePalma Farms booth at the Saturday morning Tracy Farmers Market. The DePalma walnuts, a good combination of whole kernels and almost-whole ones, “must be imported from Ripon,” I tell the young, personable booth staffers (both Modesto Junior College students), who agree with me.

So far, Ripon is as close as we can get to buying local walnuts at the Tracy Farmers Market. Who knows, someday.

Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at shm@tracypress.com.

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