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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.
• Cotton prices became less attractive, especially when compared to competing crops, in all productive regions, said Gary M. Adams, vice president for economics and policy analysis with the National Cotton Council.
He said that in developing economies, “demand for cotton textiles and apparel will be very sensitive to relative prices of cotton and polyester.”
The 2011-11 Pima crop was “an unprecedented one,” said Ernie Schroeder Jr., president and CEO of Jess Smith and Sons, “with prices of over $3 a pound reached in February 2011.
The higher prices attracted more acres to Pima following a decade low of 141,400 acres for the 2009-2010 crop season. For 20120-2011, it was 204,200 acres and for 2011-20012 it was 307,400.
As prices dropped, there has been a drop in planted acres to 239,000 for 2012-2013. Competing crops, such as beans, corn and wheat are at historically high prices and expected to attract Pima acres next year.
Meanwhile, production declines in Egypt and China will push demand to the United States.
• The pistachio crop for 2012 will be a record for the U.S. pistachio industry at about 550 million pounds.
The crop size will hit 1 billion pounds between 2018 and 2020, said Richard Matoian, executive director of American Pistachio Growers in Fresno.
The industry sees good opportunities for exports to India with the lowering of tariffs there.
The U.S. and Iran continue to dominate the world’s production of pistachios. In 2008, the U.S. surpassed Iran as the No. 1 pistachio producer and has remained in that position. The U.S. implemented a ban on all Iranian products entering the U.S. effective September 2010.
• Bearing acreage for raisins continues to drop by 2 percent to 3 percent per year despite stronger returns for raisin grapes and now stands at 205,000 acres.
The 2012 raisin grape supply is estimated at 1.9 million tons, said Glen Goto, CEO of the Raisin Bargaining Association in Fresno. That’s 14 percent below the previous 10-year average.
The 2012 Thompson Seedless green price was $325 per ton, the highest ever paid for the grapes to be crushed.
The 2011 field price of $1,700 per ton was paid with no reserves held.
Skies were clear and temperatures warm during the months of September and October 2012, compared to two previous years of late maturing grapes and weather related issues.