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Tracing Tracy Territory

Almond growers halfway through modest harvest

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The almond crop, the dominant agricultural enterprise in the Tracy area, is just over halfway toward completion of a less-than-bumper-crop season.

As the shakers and sweepers make their way through almond orchards surrounding Tracy, growers are dealing with a lighter crop than first projected.

February weather contributed to good budding conditions, but then came June with restrictions on irrigation water coupled with hotter than normal weather. The drought- induced combination resulted in increased pest damage and smaller nut size, both of which reduced yields, according to industry reports.

As demand for almonds continues to remain strong in U.S. and foreign markets (California produces 80 percent of the world’s almond crop), the price to growers has climbed from a low of $1.83 per pound for “meats” at the start of the pandemic to an average overall price for all varieties has climbed to $3 a pound. The top-rated nonpareil variety is attracting slightly higher prices, according to the Almond Board of California.

Mike Sandhu of Royal Nut Co., which processes almonds at its Chrisman Road facility and ships them to U.S., European and Pacific markets, reports the shortage of shipping containers to transport almonds to markets, especially those overseas such as India and China, is becoming a major problem.

The bottom line on almond production is a California crop estimated at 2.8 billion pounds, a 13% reduction in California almond production compared to last year’s record crop of 3.1 billion pounds.

A Tracy area total income from almonds is no longer tabulated, but almonds lead farm income in San Joaquin County at $694 million, according to the county ag commissioner’s latest report, for 2020.

This year has not been a great year for growing almonds, but the increase in prices has more than smoothed over any disappointment.

Fiacks remember Hollywood Avenue

The recent column on Hollywood Avenue has elicited several comments. Here are a couple, both from the same Tracy family. On the 200 block of Hollywood Avenue for a number of years lived the family of Joe and Eugenia Fiack. Their daughter, Nancy Fiack Kahn, remembered it well. Recently, she emailed me this note from Sacramento:

Hi Sam, loved your column on the history of Hollywood Avenue, especially since I have such great memories growing up at 239 Hollywood Ave. My family moved there in 1945 right before my brother Paul was born.

I have always wondered how it got the name, so now my curiosity has been satisfied. I'm also glad you indicated what the price was at that time.

Always look forward to reading your column each week because it usually brings back many fond memories of what it was like to grow up in a small town.

— Nancy Fiack Kahn

And then a short time later, her brother, Jim, emailed from Chico, adding his recollections of growing up on Hollywood Avenue:

Sam, my sister, Nancy, forwarded your column to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Besides Hollywood Avenue, the streets mentioned were my Stockton Record paper route in the early 1960s. I forget how many subscribers I delivered papers to 6X/week for 3+ years (and did monthly collections), but it was a formative experience for me.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

—Sincerely, Jim

OK, I promise this is the last chapter of “The Tales of Hollywood Avenue.” But there could be some more Tracy backward glances on the birth of new subdivisions elsewhere in the Ol’ Dusty Tank Town in the Valley.

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

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