Almonds — grown primarily around Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon — remained as San Joaquin County’s top agricultural crop in 2015 for the second year in a row.
The 2015 county ag report showed an overall 15. 41 percent decline from the record 2014 value of $3.324 billion to drop to $2.732 billion. The statistics are part of the 82nd annual Report of Agricultural Production San Joaquin County issued Tuesday by Ag Commissioner Tim Pelican.
Pelican cited drought-related decisions by farmers for the decline in county production.
“2015 was a year marked by the drought,” Pelican noted. “Whether it was a grower’s decision to decrease the number of field and vegetable crops acreage through fallowing, or by exercising fewer crop rotations, San Joaquin County’s agricultural community remained nimble in order to save water. In addition to our drought impacts, global influences led to weakening economies in Asia and Europe where the combination of strong yields and significant price drops for nut crops and dairy proved too much, resulting in wide-ranging losses.”
San Joaquin County mirrored California as a whole. United States Department of Agriculture statistics show that farm production dropped $9.5 billion or 17 percent in 2015 to $47.071 billion for more than 400 commodities. California still has a wide cushion as the country’s top farm state.
The top three crops in San Joaquin County last year were almonds at $433.4 million followed by dairy at $372 million, and grapes at $319 million. Milk led California at $6.29 billion followed by almonds at $5.33 billion, and grapes at $4.95 billion
San Joaquin County accounted for a third of the state’s $977 million walnut crop coming in with a crop valued at $319 million.
San Joaquin County ranks as the seventh among counties in the Golden State in terms of farm production. Six of the 10 top counties are in the San Joaquin Valley. If San Joaquin County were a separate state, its farm production would top at least 16 other states.
Farming is also the biggest employer in San Joaquin averaging roughly 23,000 jobs in any given month.
Farm products from San Joaquin County are shipped to 95 different countries spanning the alphabet from Algeria to Vietnam.
There were 65,300 acres of producing almonds last year compared to 59,200 in 2014. Tonnage was down as well as the price. Growers produced 68,100 tons in 2014 that sold for $8,500 a ton to generate $578.8 million. Last year more acres produced less almonds 62,400 tons — that sold for $6,900 a ton.
Grape acreage and overall valued dropped. It went from 102,000 acres and $500 million in 2014 to 97,900 acres and $319 million in 2015.
Manteca’s signature crops — pumpkins — were up in 2015 thanks to a 30 percent jump in yield per acre allowing the crop to have less planted acreage and slightly lower prices. The Manteca area generated 59,600 tons from 2,620 acres for $21.2 million. That compares to 2014 when 3,140 acres generated 55,300 tons for $19.9 million.
Overall the county has 890,240 acres of which 787,015 acres are classified as farmland. Of that, 517,918 acres were planted in crops with 485,402 of those acres being irrigated.
There are 3,650 farms with an average size of 220 acres.
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