By Craig W. Anderson 

When Agricultural Commissioner Tim Pelican presented the 2018 Crop Report to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors for their approval, the Top Ten crops had two new members and a top five that isn’t dramatically different from 2017.

Pelican explained that the values are “estimates based on the most common method of sale for the individual commodity, except for fresh fruits and vegetables where the value is based on the F.O.B. packed price at the shipping point.”

He said the gross value of San Joaquin County’s agricultural production for 2018 was “nearly $2.6 billion, an increase of 2.62 percent from the 2017 value.” He added that San Joaquin County farmers are “continuing their role as a worldwide agricultural leader [by] implementing a combination of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) methods that allow for faster and more efficient production of food products … and more sustainable practices to protect our finite resources.”

Supervisor Villapudua praises county’s ag community

The 2018 Crop Report theme of “Creating New Ways to Feed the World” garnered a positive reaction from Supervisor Chair Miguel A. Villapudua, who commented, “This crop report demonstrates the phenomenally innovative practices being used by San Joaquin County farmers to produce some of the highest quality, life-sustaining agricultural products in the world.”

Overview featuring fruit, nuts and eggs

“Fruit and nut crops gained $41.3 million due to a large increase in bearing acreages and a rise in almond prices and blueberries,” Pelican explained, adding that livestock and poultry products (milk, wool, eggs manure) increased  to a value of more than $467.3 million  due to “a large increase in egg production and price per dozen.”

More increases

Other crops seeing increases in their gross value included nursery products – elevated to $120 million – and apiary which had the largest increase of 23.97 percent to $32.9 million.

The Top Ten

The county’s Top Ten crops for 2018 were:

No. 1. Almonds - $536.4 million up from 2017’s $362.7 million. Almonds returned to the top spot for the first time since 2015; the nut has been in the top five for more than a decade;

No. 2. Grapes (all) - $430.5 million, an increase from 2017’s $395.5; over the past five years, grapes ranked first four times;

No. 3. Milk - $360.3 million, a decline from $387.4 million in 2017. Milk has been among the top five over the past decade and was first in 2015;

No. 4. Walnuts - $211.3 million, down from $317.4 million the previous year. Despite the decline from 2017’s gross value, walnuts continue to be a solid crop, always in the top five;

No. 5. Eggs (chicken) – made a surprise appearance with a gross value of $104.8 million, a whopping increase of more than $64 million over 2017’s total gross value and enough to crack the Top Ten;

No. 6. Cattle & Calves - $102.3 million, a $2 million drop from $104.2 in 2017;

No. 7. Tomatoes (all) - $93.5 million, a significant increase over 2017’s $78.8 million;

No. 8. Cherries - $89.7 million which marked a catastrophic crash – due to ill-timed rainy weather – from the previous year’s $184.6 million;

No. 9. Blueberries – The $61.1 million gross value caused by more acreage planted to blueberries coupled with good prices vaulted the popular fruit into the Top Ten for the first time. The value topped the $21.9 million of 2017;

No. 10. Hay (all) – The $57 million crop was down from 2017’s value of $59.3 million.

Additional revelations

The crop report also noted that the county ranked No. 1 for growing English walnuts, sweet cherries, grain corn, apples (all), squash, lima beans, pumpkins, safflower and chicken eggs; and its crops were exported to 99 countries.

Those commodities showing a decrease in value included vegetable crops (down 3.92 percent) due to an overall decline in bearing acres; livestock and poultry fell by 1.77 percent despite the growth of livestock and poultry products (milk, wool, eggs, manure).

“Field crops saw a decrease of 4.06 percent due to an acreage shift to permanent crops,” Pelican remarked, adding that “seed crops decreased by 26.42 percent because of a significant loss of planted acreage and a drop in overall price.”

Farmers continue overcoming obstacles

Despite the many challenges, the county’s ag industry continued to grow the highest quality affordable agricultural products for the consumers of the county, state, nation and world marketplaces.