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Almonds, walnuts shell the competition
An almond tree starts to bloom in a South Manteca orchard earlier this year. - photo by HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

Almonds — grown primarily around Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon —leapfrogged past milk and grapes in 2014 to become San Joaquin County’s most valuable crop.

Farm production in the county reached an all-time high in 2014 to hit $3.234 billion. That’s an 8.66 percent increase over 2013 when crops marketed from county farms were valued at $2.976 billion. The statistics are part of the 81st annual Report of Agricultural Production San Joaquin County issued Tuesday by the ag commissioner’s office.

California’s 80,500 farms and ranches received a record $44.7 billion for their output in 2013. 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.

Farming is also the biggest employer in San Joaquin averaging roughly 10,000 jobs in any given month.

If San Joaquin County were a separate state, its farm production would top at least 16 other states.

Farm products from San Joaquin County are shipped to 95 different countries spanning the alphabet from Algeria to Vietnam.

Almond growers produced 68,100 tons of nuts last year on 59,200 acres, down from 70,900 tons in 2013. Prices that were roughly 30 percent higher sent the receipts from $467.9 million in 2013 to $578.8 million in 2014.

When almond production is combined with English walnuts — the county’s third largest crop generating 131,000 tons from 62,500 acres for a value of $500 million in 2014 — nuts account for a little over a third of the county’s agricultural crop receipts.

Milk was the No. 2 agricultural commodity in 2014 at $541 million. Grapes were fourth with 816,000 tons generated from 102,000 acres for $481,440. Tomatoes rounded out the top five at $151 million from 1,633,000 tons grown on 37,800 acres.

Manteca’s signature crops — pumpkins — generated 55,300 tons from 3,140 acres for $19.9 million.

There were 37 organic producers farming 1,170 acres in 2014.

In terms of percentage of the overall California output, San Joaquin County growers led the state in eight crops.

San Joaquin County grew:

80 percent of the pumpkins.

53 percent of the sweet cherries.

42 percent of the watermelons and melons.

41 percent of the asparagus.

35 percent of all apples.

25 percent of the corn, grain.

24 percent of the English walnuts.

23 percent of the blueberries

Six crops were No.2 percentagewise in California in county by county comparisons.

28 percent of the chicken eggs.

24 percent of the safflower.

23 percent of the nursery plants.

22 percent of the lima beans.

20 percent of the cucumbers.

13 percent of the potatoes.

San Joaquin County is the third county in terms of wine grape production at 15 percent.

Ranked fourth among counties are pears at 21 percent, silage at 9 percent, fresh market tomatoes at 7 percent, and olives at 7 percent.

Corn silage is fifth among counties at 11 percent.

Almonds and milk — despite being the top two crops in San Joaquin County — didn’t break into the top five rankings.