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Resiliency of growers shines with record crop values

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Nearly half of California's ag value comes from three San Joaquin Valley counties.

Crop report season in California continues. For the larger agricultural producing counties, crop reports tend to come out in the summer. California’s largest ag producing counties of Fresno, Tulare and Kern recently released their annual reports and the numbers are truly amazing.

No other county in America produces more food than these three. Additionally, no other county in America generates more gross receipts to growers than do the counties of Fresno, Kern and Tulare.

With a combined value of more than $19 billion for the three counties, that accounts for 44 percent of California’s $43 billion ag value.

Grapes remain the leading commodity in Kern and Fresno counties. Milk from Tulare County's estimated one million dairy cows continues to lead all commodities produced there. That in itself is amazing given the large number of dairies shuttered due to the poor dairy economy in the state.

Almonds continue to bolster ag values in all three counties as the value of this permanent crop holds strong through the marketing efforts of the Almond Board of California. Bearing acreage of the nut crop grew slightly in the three-county region in 2012. Bearing acreage of almonds totals more than 331,000 acres in the three counties.

What I find most interesting is almonds’ meteoric rise in value in Fresno County over the past two decades. I am sure this has happened in other San Joaquin Valley counties as well. In 1992 almonds did not even rank in the top 10 in Fresno County. By 2002 their value rose to sixth place and is now the No. 2 commodity there. Roughly $150 million in gross receipts value separates grapes from almonds in Fresno County.

Another crop making a very strong showing in Fresno County and other Valley counties is pistachios. Increased world demand, strong prices and projections of continued marketing success make this tree nut another good option for California growers.

The point is, folks: agriculture is truly a driving force in California’s economy and accounts for untold billions of dollars in economic value to the state. Aside from the economic woes plaguing the state and nation, California farmers continue to be resilient and look for productive crops with higher profit margins and good marketing opportunities.

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