Total agricultural values dropped by double-digits in California’s San Joaquin County in 2016, following a trend that seems to be in place in other locations with farm outputs in the billions of dollars.
The 14.5 percent drop in gross agricultural values for San Joaquin County – down to $2.33 billion for 2016 – comes at a time when drought conditions and commodity prices gave stiff headwinds to farmers in the region.
Not all was bearish as grape values – the leading county commodity county – up 3 percent on average across all varieties, according to the annual crop report recently released by the county department of agriculture.
Bearing acres for wine grapes remained basically flat at 98,000 as total tonnage harvested grew 17.3 percent compared to 2015. Yields across all varieties averaged over seven tons per acre.
Such was not the case for almonds which swapped places with grapes between 2015 and 2016 due to commodity prices. Almond grower prices dropped 31 percent to about $4,800 per ton in 2016. Total almond production in the county for 2016 topped 145 million pounds, or about 7 percent of the state’s total crop.
Almond hull and shell prices saw a steeper price decline to $5 per ton, down 76 percent from the previous year and hulls were off nearly 54 percent to $68 per ton.
Milk remained No. 2 on the year with a total value of about $362 million, or about 2.6 percent lower than the previous year. Milk prices to California dairymen have remained below the cost of production since 2014 when milk prices across the country soared above $20 per hundredweight.
Cherries had a difficult year, according to county Ag Commissioner Tim Pelican, as adverse weather conditions led to yields 54 percent lighter than the previous season. Growers also suffered under prices about $200 per ton less for fresh-market fruit and 71 percent under previous year prices for their processed fruit.
Blueberry prices were stronger on a crop that was slightly heavier than 2015.
Bee producers saw honey production increases on slightly stronger prices for the golden nectar. Total pollination values also increased, likely due to increased almond acreage.
San Joaquin County reported 47 registered organic producers across 1,930 certified acres and 85 different crops, 26 organic handlers and 2 organic processors in 2016. Except for citrus, fruit remains the single-leading organic crop by acreage in the county, followed by walnuts and wine grapes.