Almonds were first planted in Australia on Kangaroo Island in 1836 and soon spread to private gardens throughout Adelaide and other South Australian Cities. Australian production is centred in and around the Murray Valley, eastward from the Northern Adelaide Plains to the Riverland, Sunraysia and Riverina regions. Some smaller orchards still remain at Willunga, the pioneering region for Australian almonds. The most recent area to be planted is the Swan region of Western Australia.
The total area planted to almonds has increased from 3,555 hectares in 2000 to 35,886 in 2016, representing a nine-fold increase in orchard area. Plantings spiked during 2006 and 2007 when over 12,500 hectares of orchard were established. In the ensuing eight-year period plantings were steady with approximately 7,000 hectares added. Significant new plantings occurred during 2016 with 4,904 acres planted, and further orchard expansion is predicted with an estimated 5,000 hectares to be planted in 2017 and again in 2018.
Almond trees take three years to bear a crop and around seven years to reach mature production levels at conventional tree spacing. Presently, 7,115 hectares or 19.8% of orchard plantings are not yet bearing a crop, and 7% of bearing trees are not yet fully mature. Australian almond production will continue to trend upwards in coming years towards 110,000 tonnes regardless of future plantings, and should reach 150,000 tonnes by 2025 if orchard development continues as planned.
The global almond industry is growing very rapidly in terms of production. Worldwide almond production has more than doubled since 2004 to hold steady at 1.1 million tonnes in 2016. Rapid growth in local production has meant the Australian almond industry has an export focus. For every tonne sold in Australia, nearly three tonnes are exported. Consumer demand for almonds continues to increase globally and this trend is expected to continue due to the positive health benefits of eating almonds and increasing incomes, particularly in Asian and Middle Eastern countries.