The value of Placer County’s agricultural crops and products reached its highest point in seven years during 2012.
Agricultural Commissioner Joshua P. Huntsinger presented the 2012 Placer County Agricultural Crop Report to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
“It’s really good news this year in that our total value for 2012 was $73 million, which is up significantly from the year before, at $67.5 million,” he told the board, noting that last year was the first time since 2005 the total had topped the $70 million mark.
Last year’s total was $5.6 million higher, or 8.3 percent, than the tally for 2011.The crop report looks at the gross value of agricultural crops and products, rather than the net income producers receive.
Placer County’s top five crops for 2012 were:
- Rice, with a total value of $22,382,000;
- Cattle and calves, $11,894,000;
- Nursery stock, $7,178,000;
- Walnuts, $3,566,000; and
- Timber, $3,300,000.
“Everything is generally up, with the exception of nursery stock and timber,” he explained before Tuesday’s meeting. “Those crops are both dependent on the housing market, and have continued to languish since 2007 or 2008.”
He told board members that both nursery stock and timber typically were in the $10 million to $15 million range each year before the housing market crash.
The value of last year’s rice crop was 25.0 percent higher than the $17.9 million recorded the preceding year. The increase resulted from a jump in the number of acres harvested and higher yields per acre and was partially offset by a small drop in prices.
The total value of cattle and calves was up 5.6 percent from almost $11.3 million for 2011.
Huntsinger noted that walnut prices were at an all-time high last year, a fact that is reflected in the crop report. High prices, a small increase in the number of acres bearing walnuts and a higher yield per acre led to a 44.0 percent jump from the $2.48 million total posted in 2011.
The trends also were positive for crops such as mandarin oranges and vegetables that often are sold at local farmers’ markets and other direct-marketing outlets. Strong yields and a slight increase in prices led to a 22.4 percent jump in the value of the mandarin crop, from slightly more than $1.3 million in 2011 to $1.6 million last year.
The total value of vegetable crops such as melons, peppers, pumpkins, squash and fresh tomatoes was $1.25 million in 2012, a 25 percent increase from the $1.00 million recorded the preceding year.
The value of the wine grape crop jumped 91.9 percent, from $400,704 in 2011 to $769,000 last year. The increase resulted from a small increase in the number of acres producing wine grapes, a hike in prices per ton and a large increase in yields per acre.