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Almond Board Summit Brings Growers to UC Merced

January 17, 2024
Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz addresses the Almond Board of California's Nutrient Summit.
Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz addresses the Almond Board of California's Nutrient Summit.

Dozens of almond growers and researchers came to UC Merced on Wednesday for a summit on best practices for one of California's most important crops.

It was the first time the Almond Board of California hosted its Nutrient Summit on campus, and it highlighted the important partnership between the university and an industry that makes use of some of its most groundbreaking research.

UC Merced Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz welcomed attendees by pointing out the mutually beneficial relationship the university has with the growers.

"The university was placed here in the Valley to create access, not just for students, but also to do exactly what it is doing by hosting you here," Muñoz said. "Since our founding, UC Merced's amazing faculty members have developed areas of signature research strengths, particularly in agricultural technology, training the next generation of agricultural leaders like yourselves in more efficient farming that will make this Valley an even greater economic and agricultural powerhouse."

The chancellor pointed out that the topic of Wednesday's summit - nutrition - was appropriate given how much work is happening in that area at UC Merced. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient in producing amino acids, proteins and nucleic acids. It helps maintain healthy bones, muscles and organs, and it also helps regulate the body's metabolism. Certain crops also rely on nitrogen for their nutrition.

"We have several excellent researchers working on ways to draw nitrogen out of the water and manage applications with data-driven decision making," Muñoz said. Some of those projects have received funding from the Almond Board.

According to its website, the Modesto-based Almond Board is dedicated to promoting California almonds to domestic and international audiences both through marketing efforts and by funding and promoting studies about almonds' health benefits, as well as ensuring sustainable agricultural practices and food safety.

The Board holds an annual conference and events like Wednesday's to educate grower members and attain its goal of expanding global consumption of California almonds through leadership in strategic market development, innovative research and the accelerated adoption of industry best practices.

Almond production in California rose to 2.6 billion meat pounds in 2023, according to a United States Department of Food and Agriculture forecast. The state accounts for nearly 80 percent of the almonds consumed throughout the world.

In addition to farmers, attendees at the summit included researchers from UC Davis, the University of California Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources, state water agency representatives and consultants.

"The Almond Board of California works hard to meet the ever-growing needs of our industry, bringing relevant and timely information directly to almond growing communities," said Jenny Nicolau, the Almond Board's senior manager of industry relations and communications. "Partnering with respected institutions that aim to serve the agriculture industry, like UC Merced, is a natural step in serving the industry and it helps the outreach of all of us."

Muñoz said that partnership will only continue to grow.

"We hope that you will bring your research problems to us and to hire our students who graduate," he said. "You enrich the mission of this university by being present here today and this university was quite literally put here to support you."