Here's a good business to be in this year: Nut production

Global demand for almonds and walnuts — two of California's major nut crops — is expected to grow this year, federal officials say.

A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report shows that global almond production for 2010-11 is forecast to swell by 12 percent to more than 1.9 billion pounds.

And exports will grow by 9 percent. Much of the demand is coming from emerging markets, including China, India and the United Arab Emirates.

Those markets have expanded by 80 percent in the last five years, said Tony Halstead, a USDA agricultural economist and author of the latest nut forecast.

The U.S. is the dominant supplier of almonds on the global market.

California produces nearly all of the U.S. almond supply, with leading producers including Fresno, Kern and Stanislaus counties.

This year, almond growers are expected to produce 1.65 billion pounds of almonds, an increase of 17 percent from last year.

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