Almond acreage, prices in Mid-Valley following upward trend
Harvested almond acreage, by county:
Year 2001: 22,250 acres; year 2011: 41,214 acres.
Year 2001: 36,865 acres; year 2011: 38,051 acres.
Year 2001: 4,849 acres; year 2011: 4,498 acres.
Year 2001: 800 acres; year 2011: 981 acres.
Source: County crop reports
Almond orchard acreage has been rising in the Mid-Valley — booming in the case of Colusa County — in line with the increase up and down the Central Valley. And there has been a parallel rise in the price of almond land.
Colusa County's almond acreage went from 22,250 acres in 2001 to 41,214 acres in 2011, a whopping 85 percent gain.
Butte County had a modest gain over the 10 years, from 36,865 acres to 38,051. Yuba County's small almond acreage increased from 800 to 981. Sutter County's almonds decreased slightly, from 4,849 to 4,498 acres during the decade. All figures came from the counties' respective annual crop reports.
The Appeal-Democrat recently reported farmland on the north side of the Sutter Buttes reaching $14,000 per acre in a transaction.
"They (almonds) are on a really good streak," said Anthony Laney, a farmer and ranch manager in Live Oak, last week. "You're not seeing people wanting to sell (almond land). And there's not a whole lot of ground for sale where almonds grow really well, so there's a scarcity of almond ground."
Laney believes part of the rush is due to investment groups and pension funds buying up such land.
The almond boom is seen especially in Colusa County.
"(The expansion of almond acreage) is throughout the county," said Mary Anne Azevedo, assistant agricultural commissioner for Colusa County. "We're seeing acres pop up everywhere, especially the Westside."
"Typically, (almond land) was west and south of Arbuckle," said Ernie Phelan of Pride Real Estate in Arbuckle. "Now you're seeing it north of Arbuckle and west of Williams, which was bare ground on the rolling hills."
With acreage spreading, almond land prices are also heading up in the county.
"If I had an orchard for sale, I could set the price at close to $20,000 per acre, with open ground closer to $10,000," said Phelan, who has brokered deals for almond land.
He said he knew of almond land going for $18,000 per acre in Colusa County and $22,000 in neighboring Yolo County, adding, "It depends on the type and age of the orchard, the production level and scenarios including water, the size of the acreage, a bunch of stuff."
The Realtor said on Friday the acreage is being bought up by local farmers as well as investors and corporate farms.
"There's no inventory to speak of," said Phelan.