Wine grapes were the top crop in San Joaquin County in 2016.
The 716,000 tons harvested from 98,000 acres further cemented San Joaquin County’s positon of being the top wine grape growing county in California as well as the nation far outpacing production in Napa, Sonoma and Monterey counties.
It also underscores major winery expansions in the immediate Manteca-Ripon area. The Wine Group — one of the nation’s top three wineries — has started a major expansion of their operations on East Highway 120 in rural Ripon at Murphy Road.
Manteca-based Delicato Family Vineyards is gearing up to expand its winery on Highway 99 just south of French Camp Road north of Manteca. It is also among the nation’s top 10 wineries.
Almonds — the dominate crop in the countryside around Manteca, Ripon and Escalon — was hammered by weather and lower prices. Countywide, 71,100 acres produced almonds — up from 65,300 acres in 2015 to generate gross revenue for the crop of $348.8 million. That’s down from $433.4 million in 2015.
Milk bumped almonds out of the No. 2 spot as production came in at $362.1 million, down slightly from $372.1 million in 2015.
Walnuts came in fourth at $273 million from 67,200 acres.
Pumpkins — Manteca’s signature crop — saw a jump of almost $7 million as 75,400 tons rolled out of that were worth $28.3 million. Manteca with 3,370 acres dedicated to pumpkins grown specifically for holiday decoartions produced more than 70 percent of California’s pumpkin crop. The tonnage was up from 59,600 in 2015 when 2,620 acres were planted in pumpkins.
Overall crop production was down 14.45 percent countywide in 2016 as it dropped to $2.337 billion from $2.732 billion in 2015. Heavy rains at inopportune times caused major losses especially in the county’s cherry production.
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