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San Joaquin County sees record returns from agriculture

Annual report shows $2.9 billion in production, an all-time high

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Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013 12:00 am

The value of agricultural production in San Joaquin County jumped to an all-time high in 2012, reaching $2.9 billion. That’s a $70 million jump from last year’s total of about $2.2 billion, according to the annual crops report released by the San Joaquin County Agriculture Commissioner Scott Hudson.

The county leads the state in production value of apples, asparagus, cherries, grain corn and walnuts. These five crops alone generated $833,452,000 in 2012, or 29 percent of the county’s total agriculture value.

Half of the major crop categories saw jumps of at least 7 percent, with major increases in apiary — or beekeeping — products and in fruit and nut sales.

While the same amount of honey was produced in 2011 and 2012, the unit price increased from $1.56 a pound to $2.05 a pound, leading to total sales of $221,000. Apiary products in general increased from $13.8 million to $21.6 million, a jump of 56 percent.

Fruit and nut sales — including grapes, apples, almonds, cherries, olives and walnuts — increased from $956 million to $1.64 billion in 2012. That was an increase of 71 percent.

About 25,400 tons of cherries will be sent out in fresh packs to 50 countries.

San Joaquin County is the largest producer, packer and exporter of apples in the state. The crop started in this county in 1974 with 91 acres of apple trees, and grew to a peak of 5,880 acres in 2005. Today, there are 3,610 acres of apple trees for a value of $50 million.

Walnuts have increase in value 3 1/2 times in five years, and are exported to China, India and Turkey. San Joaquin County produces 20 percent of the state’s almond crop.

Grapes, as a whole, nearly doubled in gross value as compared to 2011.

The grape crop, including both wine and table grapes, brought in 892,000 tons of fruit. That brought the total profit up to $594,054,000.

Table grapes, whole and crushed for juice, are seeing a resurgence of popularity. In 2011, only 1,400 tons brought in $321,000. In 2012, that jumped to 6,840 tons, bringing in $2,223,000.

And winegrapes saw an excellent return. Fresh winegrapes earned $1,112 per ton, for a total of $8,807,000. Crushed winegrapes brought in $608 a ton, totaling $538,080,000.

The annual crop report also releases data on the farming industry overall. There are more than 492,000 acres of agricultural land currently growing crops in San Joaquin County, run by about 3,600 farms. Produce from the county is exported to more than 80 countries.

Not all crops or products are seeing a bumper year. Livestock, poultry and similar products saw a marked decrease in production.

As an industry, livestock and poultry dropped from $102 million in value in 2011 to $97 million in 2012. The biggest change was in the sale of cattle and calves. In 2011, the livestock trade had a value of $71.5 million. In 2012, it dropped to $67 million.

Milk product sales lost nearly $49 million.

Interestingly, wool production saw a boost. More than 62,000 pounds of wool were sold, for a total of $112,000. That’s nearly twice the results from 2011, when only 32,000 pounds of wool were sold for $57,000.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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