San Joaquin County export value lower due to lower prices of almonds and walnuts

Generally lower commodity prices and in some cases poor harvest conditions contributed to a 14.5 percent drop in the dollar value of 2016 agricultural production in San Joaquin County. County Agricultural Commissioner Tim Pelican reported to county supervisors Aug. 23 that the county’s 2016 ag production was valued at $2,337,922, compared with $2,732,917 in 2015.

 It was the second consecutive year that the total dollar value of county agriculture declined in the final years of drought conditions.

Grapes, with a total value of $425,781,000, replaced almonds as the county’s top dollar-producing crop in 2016 with 21 percent increase in value over 2015. The emergence of the Lodi-Clements wine grape area as a premium wine region helped boost the grape income total. A decline in almond prices, which had peaked in 2015, was another major reason for that crop’s lower economic impact in 2016 — down 19.53 percent from 2015 — but increased plantings coming into production this year and a stabilized market could change that.

An unseasonal, heavy rainstorm in the late spring of 2016 decimated the county’s cherry crop, including new orchards in the Tracy area just coming into production. Cherries showed a major decline in value to $58,541,000 in 2016, compared with $181,152,000 in 2015. This year’s bumper cherry crop will reverse that trend in the 2017 report.

Walnuts, with a production value of $273,965, showed a 14.31 percent decline in value in 2016, due to lower prices. Milk, the county’s second largest income producer at $362,196,000, was steady with a 2.86 percent decline in 2016. In receiving the annual county ag report, Chuck Winn, chairman of the county board of supervisors, noted that agriculture in the county is part of the global economy.

“Many people may not know that the crops farmers grow in San Joaquin County are exported to 90 different countries,” he said.