California's Gone Nuts
The grape used to be queen. In 2000, California growers produced $4.4 billion of table and wine grapes. This was four times as much as any other crop; alfalfa hay, almonds, lettuce, oranges, rice, strawberries, and processing tomatoes each brought in about $1 billion that year.
Nuts have taken the throne. The inflation-adjusted value of CA almonds has quintupled since 2000, reaching $6.6 billion in 2018. Annual pistachio production has increased eight-fold in value since 2000. Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts now generate about $11 billion in production value annually, 60% more than table and wine grapes.
More acres of almonds are harvested in the state than any other crop. Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts now comprise 20% of harvested crop acreage (excluding rangeland). This is more than grapes, lettuce, oranges, rice, strawberries, and tomatoes combined.
Many of these new nut acres have come in place of alfalfa. Harvested alfalfa acres have declined almost 50% since 2000.
To investigate, view, and download these data, go to my California Crops data block.