Written by David Castellon
Sales of agricultural goods in Madera County totaled more than $1.97 billion in 2017, with almonds continuing to be the top-selling crop
Combined sales of all agricultural goods last year were up 8.4 percent over 2016, more than $159.9 million, according to the 2017 crop report Madera County Agricultural Commissioner Stevie McNeill presented Monday to the county Board of Supervisors.
Sales of almond nuts and hulls exceeded $723.5 million for the year, an increase of more than $130 million over 2016 sales.
Part of that increase can be attributed to an additional 10,000 acres of almonds being harvested in 2017, as well as the average price paid for the nuts going up over the same period by nearly $200 a ton to $4,695.
That’s not the sort of big increase almond prices experienced a couple of years ago, but that’s a good thing, McNeill said.
“Almond prices were extraordinarily high,” but after that wild year, she said, “Now we’re seeing things normalize in price.
“The types of prices were are seeing are more realistic” for the market, so farmers are less likely to see dramatic jump or drops in the prices they get for their almonds, McNeill explained.
After almonds, the next nine top agricultural commodities for 2017 in Madera county were, in order: Milk, grapes, pistachios, cattle and calves, bee pollution services, replacement heifers, nursery stock, tomatoes — fresh and processed — and poultry.
Almost all held the same places in 2017 that they held the prior year, with the exception of poultry sales, the only new member of the top 10 list.
Among the other highlights of the report was that acreage for field crops increased in 2017, with sales up a little more than $7 million over 2016.
Fruit and nut crops also increased acreage and sales, the latter reaching $1.33 billion in 2017, a more than $87.7 million jump over 2016.
One of the few Madera County ag categories that experienced a decline was nursery products, which had an overall sales drop of $595,000 in 2017 compared to 2016.
Among the counties in the southern end of the Valley, only Madera, Fresno and Kings have put out their annual crop reports, with Fresno and Kings reporting total sales of $7.02 billion and $2.06 billion, respectively.