Israel Almond Industry
The Israeli almond industry is booming. In 2019, the industry encompassed 6,200 hectares of breathtaking almond trees countrywide.
The growing areas stretch from Kibbutz Neot Semadar in the south to Kibbutz Dan in the north. The main commercial growing areas are the Hula Valley, Southern Golan Heights, Lower Galilee, Jezreel Valley, Judean Plains and The Northern Negev.These 6,200 hectars are grown by 200 professional growers of which 30% are in kibbutzim (cooperatives) and the major part spread among various private farms (Moshavim) communities. Training, breeding, R&D and growing support is overseen by the Plants Production and Marketing Board and by the Ministry of Agriculture through the Agricultural Research Organization - Volcani Center.
Almond growing in Israel is characterized by sophisticated full mechanization, which allows for large-scale planting.
Almonds are considered the healthiest food among 100 tested foods, including avocado and olive oil. (Based on USDA data) and approved by the FDA (the American Food and Drug Administration).
Almonds are highly nutritious. With public recognition of the nutritional value of almonds and the almond fruit, almond consumption in Israel has doubled in recent years.
Israel consumes 10,000 tons (10 million kg) every year. Most of the consumption is of choice Israeli almonds with some imports from the United States, the world's largest almond grower.
The industry invests extensively in research and development every year. Almond industry research focuses on the search for integrated pest and disease control solutions (significant reduction in the use of pesticides, breeding of new varieties with self‑compatibility (that are less dependent on bee pollination),
superior varieties, highly resistant to various types of damage, and acclimation of new stocks that provide vigorous growth and are resistant to soil-borne diseases.
Almond growing in Israel is environmentally aware, reflected in integrated pest management, low water consumption and targeted automation.
Israel's almond varieties
A large number of varieties studied and researched created a sophisticated and exemplary web of high-yield commercial varieties:
- 'Umm al-Fahm' – the main variety in Israel with a large and tasty seed. Also known as "Hassan', after the name of its developer.
- 'Kochba' – pollinates the Umm al-Fahm, relatively small kernel
- 'Kochav' – pollinates the Umm al-Fahm, sensitive to viruses
- 'Gilad'– pollinates the Umm al-Fahm, a patented variety, improved by Neve Ya'ar, R&D farm.
- 'Shefa'– flowers with the Umm al-Fahm, a patented variety, improved by Neve Ya'ar, R&D farm.
- 'Matan' - a new variety, self-fertilizing, late harvest; a patented variety, improved by Neve Ya'ar, R&D farm.
People love the Israeli almond
The data indicate that consumption of almonds in Israel is relatively high with compared to the rest of the world, following increase consumption in recent years to 1000 g (1 kg) on average per ca-pita per year.
Israel's annual consumption reach 10,000 tons (10 million kg) annually. About two-thirds is grown locally; the rest is imported, primarily from California, the world's biggest almond grower, constituting 82% of the global crop.
The main areas found suitable for commercial almond orchards are the northern valleys, the Golan Heights, the Judea Plains and the northern Negev, though growing areas stretch as far south as Kibbutz Neot Semadar.
Intensified R&D along with nutritional health trends have led to major developments in Israel's almond industry in recent years.
Over the past five years, the planted area has risen from 4,500 hectares yielding 4,000 tons of almonds to 6,200 hectares yielding 6,000 tons of world's high quality almonds.