Walnut Industry Healthy in North State

Feb 2, 2013 12:20 AM

Friday was Tehama County's Walnut Day. Walnuts are one of the county's largest industries, but it's not an industry without risks. The walnut crop is continuously threatened by invasive pests, disease, and weeds.

But growers have the power of the UC System behind them to keep the industry thriving. Once a year, the industry comes together to raise concerns and solve some of the problems facing walnut farmers.

Over a hundred people packed into the Red Bluff Elks Lodge Friday to discuss ecological factors threatening the walnut crop.

"We covered disease control, insect control, root health, irrigation type concepts and weed management," said Richard Buchner, Tehama County Orchard Farm Administrator.

Researchers from UC Davis keep a close eye on tehama county's walnut crop and devise solutions when a problem appears.

"It's absolutely essential, thats what makes california a leader in specialty food production," said Chuck Crain, a walnut industry leader. He says he is thankful for the help as his company and others make the jump into overseas markets.

"55% of California walnut crop exported so we depend heavily on the world market and we need to keep those distribution channels open," said Crain.

People in Korea, China and India are developing a taste for walnuts which is driving up production locally.

"Well in Tehama County, walnut crop is our number one crop both fro value and for acreage, we are probably over 20-thousand acres of walnuts in Tehama County," said Doug Compton, Tehama County Assistant Ag Commissioner.

Since 2001 acreage has increased by 40%, but total value of the crop has quadrupled. In Tehama County alone, the walnut industry is worth nearly 100-million dollars.

"Every year they have been planting quite a few new walnuts, both in existing orchard ground and breaking new orchard ground. areas that traditionally have not had orchards in them," said Compton.

All the more reason it's important for farmers and researchers to collaborate.

The trend is not limited to Tehama County. In 2011, Butte County's walnut crop was worth a whopping 218-million dollars.


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