For most people, the words “ancient history,” usually awaken images of dinosaurs and prehistoric man—not almonds. But it may come as a surprise how far back these delightful, little tree nuts really go. Turns out, all of us modern-day almond lovers are in very good company.
- 1400 BC: Throughout history, almonds have maintained religious, ethnic, and social significance. The Bible’s book of Numbers tells of Aaron’s rod that blossomed and bore almonds, using them as a symbol to represent the divine approval of Aaron by God.
- 100 AD: The Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm. There are documented findings that nutmeats and dried fruits were treated as delicacies of the time, as the cultivation of these foods was not very prevalent.
- 600-900 AD: Almond trees were flourishing in areas such as Spain, Morocco, Greece, and Israel. So it was only natural for explorers to consume them while traveling the Silk Road between the Mediterranean region and China.
- 1700 AD: The almond tree was brought to California from Spain in the mid-1700s by the Franciscan Padres. However, the moist, cool weather of the coastal mission, did not provide optimum growing conditions. It wasn’t until the following century that trees were successfully planted inland.
- 1900 AD: By the 1870s, research and crossbreeding had developed several of today’s prominent almond varieties. By the turn of the 20th century, the almond industry was firmly established in the Sacramento and San Joaquin areas of California’s great Central Valley.
- 2000 AD: In the past 30 years, California’s almond yield has quadrupled. More than half a million acres in the lush San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys are under almond cultivation, stretching 400 miles between Bakersfield and Red Bluff, California. The modern industry of today reveals a different look at almonds. Now focused on highly advanced methods of production sorting, hulling and processing, the industry still maintains its down-to-earth goodness invoked by this simple nut.
- Today: Almonds are California's largest tree nut crop in total dollar value and acreage. They rank as the largest US specialty crop export, as well as the top agricultural export of the state of California.