STOCKTON — The local agricultural commission released its 2017 crop report last week, a manifesto that quantifies the annual productivity of the farms that remain the backbone of San Joaquin County’s economy.
Here are a few factoids from the 24-page 2017 report:
• The gross value of county crops exceeded $2.5 billion, up 8.13 percent from 2016.
• There are 3,580 farms in San Joaquin County, and the average size is 220 acres.
• Fifty-eight percent of the county’s 517,918 acres are devoted to farms, which produce more than 250 commodities.
The full report is packed with data and touts a new slogan for the area: “Greatness Grows Here.”
Following is a look at some of the other items included in the report.
What’s No. 1?
No need for sour grapes. The sweet ones marked their second consecutive year as king of the local agricultural world.
In 2016, grape revenue was $425.8 million. Grapes still led in 2017 even though revenue dropped to $395.5 million.
Leading the state
San Joaquin County has dynasties when it comes to walnuts and pumpkins. The county has been California’s top walnut producer for more than 20 consecutive years and the state's top pumpkin producer for more than 15, according to the report.
In 2017, walnuts receipts were $317.4 million and pumpkins generated $16.9 million.
“San Joaquin County has the lightest color walnuts in the state,” farmer Lawrence Sambado is quoted as saying in the report. “This is due to the cool summertime breezes at night, coming from the San Francisco Bay. The warmer it is at night, the more discoloration the walnuts experience.”
Asparagus revenue in San Joaquin County has dipped precipitously in the past two reports. The 2015 figure was $32.7 million. It dropped to $11.65 million in 2016. And in the new report, the figure was $9.8 million.
“A lot of it is a lack of labor,” Agricultural Commissioner Tim Pelican said. “So there’s a labor shortage as well as the fact that we can’t compete pricewise with the commodity that’s being imported from Mexico.”
The ecstasy and the agony
2017 was a memorable year for cherries. 2018 may turn out to be, too, but for a very different reason.
The 2017 crop brought in $184.5 million. But weather woes make it all but certain that 2018 will be a much less fruitful cherry year. Whether the numbers will plummet to 2016 depths — $58.5 million — will be an interesting data point in the 2018 crop report when it is released next summer.
“I don’t expect it will be as bad as it was (in 2016),” Pelican said.
Where in the world?
South Korea was the top trading partner for San Joaquin County crops in 2017. The top five commodities traded internationally in 2017 were rice (83,468 tons), walnuts (49,173), almonds (34,710), cherries (19,643) and corn (7,583). Crops literally went all over the world, including to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Russian Federation and Uruguay. The major partnerships include Canada, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Italy.
Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rphillipsblog.