Bright agricultural prospects for 2012 as 2011 winds down

Bright agricultural prospects for 2012 as 2011 winds down

Keystroking this year-end Merry Christmas/Happy New Year offering harkens back to the waning days of yester-century. December 1999 it was.

Seems like only yesterday when my wife and her friend were stocking up on water and other necessary survival supplies for the impending Y2K calamity. I am reminded of those times with each visit to the backyard shed where I glance at the cases of purified water jugs that were to sustain us during the impending cataclysm. Most expensive windshield washing water ever poured into my pickup’s little plastic bottle. Got enough to last until the next turn of the century for someone upon which to survive — if I don’t use it for something more important, like topping off the radiator in my ’55 Pro Street Chevy (Old Yeller).

Where, oh where has the time gone? We are now into the second decade of the century 2000 and the 11th year of the third millennium.

Seems like only yesterday folks were predicting the demise of the California almond industry with the first 1-billion-pound crop. That was a decade ago. This year it looks like almond growers will crack out close to 2 billion pounds of meat before the 2011-2012 hulling/shelling season ends, and they are as happy as skunks eating cabbage at the prospects of selling all of it at possum-grinning prices.

All the tree nut crops did well this season and prospects are bright for pistachio, walnut and almond producers alike.

Lots of farmers besides tree nut growers did well in 2011. However, California and Arizona agriculture is too diversified for all to hit home runs, but it was good enough to satisfy most. Unfortunately, some crops never recovered from a slow, weather-delayed start. Coastal grapes got smacked pretty hard by a spring frost followed later by lousy fall weather that delayed harvest and left more than a few tons to rot on the ground or on the vines. 2011 was the year to have nice, clean wine grapes. A season likes 2011 makes one wonder what happened to winery-demanded “hang time” to “improve quality.” The year past was a “close enough” year for winery deliveries.

Thompson growers had a very good year. Unfortunately, it was on the ashes or wood chips of 80,000 to 100,000 acres of vines pushed out over the past decade. Hey, supply and demand are now in balance, and the future looks good for surviving Thompson producers coming off the first ever $500-million raisin crop.

California cotton acreage rebounded in 2011 and growers harvested a good crop.

Processing tomato growers seemed to have a mixed year from the looks of the red-grey hued tomato trucks lumbering down the highways after a wet fall.

Alfalfa growers are hanging in with the dairy industry. California rice growers did well.

The never-ending California water crisis took a respite in 2011 with above normal rainfall and almost unbelievable snowpack that still lingers. 2012 is starting out better than most recent water years with good reservoir carryovers and early rain and snow.

Hopefully, it foretells of a great 2012 for all.

Regardless, we are blessed to be in agriculture in the West; with an incredible God-made climate that affords us an opportunity to do what we do.

Be blessed and refreshed during this holiday season.

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