Almond orchards in China's Xinjiang Province have annual
intercrops, in this case, corn (rotated with wheat).
A recent trip by Almond Board staff members and California and Chinese horticultural experts reaffirms findings of a 2006 assessment that Chinese almond production can only meet a fraction of current and projected Chinese market demand.
No region in China has a Mediterranean climate most suited for almond production. In Xinjiang (a high-elevation basin, altitude over 4,500 feet), consistent production is hampered by cold temperatures; and cold events can wipe out crops in any given year, which is typically every three to five years — as seen in 2006 and 2008. Extreme temperatures in dormancy can kill flower buds and fruiting wood. In spring, frosts can kill flowers and young fruit, and as well, cold, dry winds can desiccate and kill shoots. Nevertheless, the growing season is dry, and in the absence of these events, there is crop production.
In 2006, the Forestry Bureau of Shache State in the Xinjiang Province embarked on a plan to plant a million mu, or 167,000 acres of almonds (one acre = 6 mu). Planting is almost complete, and this region will continue to yield the majority of China almond production. Chinese officials estimate that this acreage will reach maturity about 2020, and production in “good years” could be about 150 million kernel pounds. Current “good year” production estimates are 39 million kernel pounds. This level of current and projected production only will supply the local region.
In the east, almond production and tree longevity are hampered by severe trunk, leaf and fruit diseases caused by monsoon rains from June through September. With these impediments, the current almond production and outlook in these areas are not significant, and average annual production is estimated at 2 million kernel pounds.