Almonds are grown in the United States more than anywhere else on Earth. In fact, the United States dominates the global production of almonds, followed by traditional almond growers Spain and Italy. California, the largest almond producer in the world, is the only place in North America that grows almond for commercial purposes. The harvest is usually enough to feed the nation and export to other countries. Other countries mostly produce almond for home use. Apart from California, the Middle East, and European countries also produce the fruit. Germany is the biggest importer of almonds followed by Japan and the Netherlands.
1. The United States - 2,002,742
The US is the dominant producer of almonds in the world producing 2,002,742 tons annually. California is the primary producing region. About 70% of the almonds are exported in shelled form and the rest processed or sold unshelled. Cultivation of almonds in California is in a mild climate, fertile soils, and abundant sunshine, with state of the art equipment and techniques during growth, harvesting, processing, and packaging. When production reduces in California, the effect impacts on the global market and the price of almonds increase. Such case happened in 2015, resulting in an increased demand of almonds worldwide. The US cultivates the sweet variety of almonds for food purposes either locally or internationally.
2. Spain - 202,339
Spain produces approximately 202,339 tons annually and has a broad range of commercial cultivators. Cultivation takes place in region of Valencia, Catalonia, Andalusia, Murcia, and Aragon. The Marcona and Desmayo Largueta are the major varieties cultivated and accounts for almost 40% of the country production output. The modern orchards grow Ferragnes Ferraduel and Cristomorto varieties. The nut is mostly consumed in its raw form, toasted to create a savory snack, as a flavor element in “ajo blancho” the Spanish soup, and turron.
3. Iran - 147,863
Iran annual production of almonds is about 99,551 metric tons. Cultivation takes place in the North West of Iran and Tabriz region, and the Amygdalus communis variety of the almond is native to the country. The country cultivates both the sweet variety and bittersweet varieties. The trees are obtained from seeds, with India as the primary export market. The produced green almonds are dipped in sea salt and sold as snacks in the streets. Sweet almonds are used to prepare, harire badan, a baby food, and as a flavor in foods and desserts. The nuts provide a delicacy in New Year events in Iran.
4. Morocco - 112,681
Morocco produces 112,681 tons of sweet almonds annually. The nut cultivation is in many zones with ideal Mediterranean conditions for growth. The growing of Seedling trees and grafted trees are common. 65% of the almond produced is by small scale farming. The yields are lower compared to the smaller large scale semi-intensive farming. The nut is used to make an almond paste the primary ingredient in pastry fillings and many deserts. Other uses of the fruit include preparation of Sellou a sweet snack with a long shelf life, to make a spread known as amlou or almond beverages.
Almonds are not real nuts but rather drupes and their production around the world is competitive with respect to quality and quantity. Even with the US producing much of the almonds in the world market, Mediterranean countries also produce substantial amounts. However, in the US, the cultivation is facilitated by technology and large scale farming compared to countries like Morocco and Italy. The fruit is highly valued for the nutrition benefits it has and the ready market across the countries, especially in non-almond producing countries.