California Walnuts: How to Start and Finance Your Own Walnut Business

May 3rd, 2021

Walnuts were introduced to the United States in 1770 when padres brought walnut trees with them from South America. The first orchards were planted in Southern California, where most of the national walnut production still originates. At first, hard-shelled walnuts were harvested, but the industry expanded rapidly as soft-shelled varieties were introduced.

Today, California walnut growers produce most of the entire US commercial walnut supply, with five counties leading the way: San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Butte and Sutter.

How Lucrative Is the Walnut Industry?

To give you an idea of the scale of the walnut growing industry in California, according to the 2017-2018 Agriculture Report of the CDFA, California exports walnuts all over the world, being among the top 5 most valuable agricultural exports in the state.

Commercial walnut farming can also be very profitable in California, and the environment is ideal for walnut cultivation. Walnut farmers have used various methods to increase their revenue as their orchards matured. It takes several years before an orchard becomes fully productive, but it can be used at the same time as a grazing site for livestock. Also, farmers can plant high-value crops like raspberries, blueberries and others, as the wide spacing between walnut trees allow for secondary crop cultivation.

Popular Areas for Walnut Planting in California

The San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys are among the most popular areas for planting walnut trees, but many other areas of the state are also fit for cultivation. To get an idea of the size of the land you would need for a walnut orchard – or for the size of orchard you would get for the land you own or plan to buy – you should know that walnut trees need plenty of space around them, as their roots spread considerably. On average, you can plant and harvest about 100 trees per acre.

california walnuts

Compared to crops that instantly give harvest, like vegetables, flowers and grains, trees will take years before they establish their first harvestable yield. It is a long-term investment, however, since trees will keep providing a harvest for many, many years to come, potentially growing more every year.

Walnut trees can provide a very valuable and stable source of income. If you decide to grow walnut trees for timber – a different type of agribusiness – varieties like the black walnut tree may offer large profits, due to the high value of their timber.

Do You Need a Loan for California Land or Starting Your Walnut Business?

If you are planning to start your own walnut business – or just about any agricultural business – California is an ideal place to establish your enterprise. Starting an orchard doesn’t always require a huge investment, and you may be able to start small and experiment with fewer numbers of trees.

Community West Bank can fulfill the financing needs of farmers and ranchers, offering Farmer Mac loans to those who want to buy or refinance farm or ranch land or kick-start their agricultural business.

Get in Touch with Laura, our Financing Expert

For financing questions as an agriculture entrepreneur, please call Laura Maffei at (805) 692-4394 or send her an email at lmaffei@communitywestbank.com – for the best financing plan for your walnut business.


california walnuts


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