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Buying Land

Opportunities in the California Almond Tree Farm Market in 2024

March 27, 2024

Farmland revenues across the board in 2024 are looking to be lower than in recent years, but this is especially true in the almond tree farm market of central California where I operate. Investors interested in purchasing an almond tree farm should beware that good deals are coming in 2024, particularly for those with cash on hand.

The commercial production of almonds is currently going through a market crash that will likely prompt a large number of almond-producing farmland owners to consider selling in 2024. An oversupply of almonds has caused grower pricing to be so soft that revenues to recapture costs to produce are falling short. Even the best-yielding almond tree farms with no debt to service are struggling to cover cultural, water, harvesting, and property tax expenses.

Here’s what to know about almond farms in 2024!

What Do Decreasing Revenues Mean for Tree Farm Upkeep?

Most almond farmers today have not experienced such a sharp and prolonged downturn since the market over the past two decades has been profitable. When farm revenues decrease, producers tend to look for ways to reduce spending, even at the risk of harming the plant. Since trees are considered “permanent crops,” they need to be maintained properly to stay healthy and productive.

When revenues are less than expenses for a long enough time, owners are faced with difficult business decisions to reduce costs which can put the orchard in long-term jeopardy of getting back to full production.

More tree farms that are planted in orchards are saturating the market. In 2020, when almond prices were $2.25 per pound, good orchards were selling for $40,000 per acre. Those same orchards are now on the market between $25,000 to $30,000 per acre and are not moving quickly. When I drive around the nut-producing areas in Central California, I see almond orchards that are not as well kept as in previous years, many sporting “for sale” signs.

Lenders that underwrote $2.00+ almonds, $3.00+ pistachios, and $1.50+ walnuts are nervous that borrowers will not be able to cover mortgage payments. In early 2023, members within the industry expressed optimism of short-term price recovery but this has not materialized.

Why is Now a Great Time to Purchase an Almond Tree Farm?

As everything cycles, now is a great time to be a buyer because I believe we are currently at rock bottom. California is currently squeezing down on water usage with newly implemented water regulations intended to create a sustainable future water supply likely to sharply reduce the acreage footprint of production agriculture.

Since Central California has the only climate in the US suitable to grow almond crops, reduced acreage over time will reduce overall output of these almond tree farms. Once the supply gets back in line with demand, pricing is likely to bounce back to profitable levels.

How Can You Capitalize On This Opportunity?

Ag investors with cash have the upper hand when it comes to negotiating the best prices on California almond tree farms for sale in 2024. When tree crop types are losing money, the farm is only worth the value of the real estate that it sits on and perhaps some of the irrigation improvements. That said, it is my opinion that Central California land with reliable water supplies is valued between $18,000 – $25,000 per acre. Land with groundwater only is worth between $4,000 – $15,000 per acre due to pumping restrictions.

As with all economic cycles, downturns create suffering for some and good deals for others. I believe almond prices will rebound back to $2.50 – $3.00 per pound before 2028. Orchards that produce 3,000 pounds per acre at $2.50 per pound will have gross revenues of $7,500 per acre. Expenses at $4,500 per acre generate net income at $3,000 per acre before debt service. Orchards purchased at $20,000 per acre will return a 15% capitalization rate. Those who capitalize on the current market downturn may be able to reap benefits in a few years.

Since there are a lot of choices in land acquisitions, any buyer should want assurances as to exactly what they are buying. If you need a qualified professional to properly vet a property listed with another brokerage firm, I can apply my farm management experience to scrutinize and provide diligence on improvements such as plants and equipment plus provide analysis on water, operations, and property management. 

If you’re looking for an exclusive representative to thoroughly investigate and evaluate a potential purchase, please contact me at or reach out to your local Land Professional!

About the Author
Brian Neufeld joined the National Land Realty team of Land Professionals in October 2023. Before coming to National Land Realty, Brian received his bachelor’s degree in ag systems management from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo and is a co-owner of Canopy Ag Farm Management headquartered in Bakersfield, California. Brian is also an active member of the California Ag Leadership Foundation. In his free time, Brian enjoys trap shooting and spending time with his friends and family. He and his wife, Kellie, are based out of Exeter, California, where they live with their three children, Hank, Annie, and Lucy, as well as their four dogs.