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- Average cost of production outstripped the price at which milk was sold in the second quarter of 2012 and in many other months since improvement in 2011 after the significant losses experienced in 2009.
- The value of the California almond crop surpassed the state's iconic grape industry to move into second place, behind dairy.
- Cotton prices became less attractive, especially when compared to competing crops.
- A handful of large players continue to dominate wine-making in California.
A bright spot for the U.S. dairy industry in 2011: Exports increased significantly compared to 2010, up 12 percent for butter, 29 percent for cheese and 13 percent for powder, a trend that spilled into 2012.
Beef, navel oranges
• Past drought also took its toll on the state’s beef industry.
Billy Gatlin, executive vice president of the California Cattlemen’s Association, said four years of severe drought through much of the state has resulted in significant reduction in the size of the state’s cow herd, but above average precipitation fell during the 2011 winter grazing season.
So far, 2012 has proven to be a dry year, he said, with 88 percent of the state experiencing some level of drought. For 2013, Gatlin said, if demand can run steady with 2012, prices will likely reach new record highs as supplies are forecasted to decline for the year.
Tighter global beef supplies and rising demand have supporter higher global meat prices over the past eight years. U.S. beef export prices moved sharply higher – up 43 percent from January 2010 to May 2012.
• The navel orange industry had a positive year from a revenue and profit per acre perspective in 2011-2012.
But the Mandarin industry did suffer as a result of very cold weather last December followed by a cold snap in January, said Joel Nelsen, president and CEO of California Citrus Mutual in Exeter.
As for the 2012-2013 crop, citrus producers remain bullish despite a slightly higher crop, Nelsen said, adding that fruit size is good, fruit shape positive and heat units this past summer likely to produce “plenty of sweetness.”
Nelsen said a new flavor maturity standard has been put in place, which he believes will provide “a better tasting piece of fruit at the outset of the season and will result in more consistent flavor thought the first quarter of the season.”
In 2011-2012, the harvest got off to a slow start with small fruit and late maturity. Dry, cold weather in December brought out full color and strengthened rinds.