Written by Edward Smith
Tulare County’s ag numbers are in, and fruits, nuts and veggies grossed a noteworthy increase for the South Valley.
The Tulare County ag commissioner presented the 2019 crop report to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. Total gross production value brought in more than $7.5 billion for the year — a 4% increase from 2018.
Milk is still the leading commodity in Tulare County, valued at $1.61 billion, a decrease of 5% from the previous year. That is due in no small part to a 11% decline in production. Milk products make up 21.5% of gross values.
The market for milk changed in 2019 when pricing shifted to federal milk pricing from the state.
Cattle and calves, as well as sheep and poultry, saw declines in gross value, leading to a 4.1% decrease in values to $665 million.
The top commodities for Tulare County were, in order, milk, oranges, grapes, cattle and calves and tangerines.
The winner in 2019 were fruit and nut crops, which cumulatively saw an 11% increase in value to $4.56 billion. Ag Commissioner Tom Tucker attributed this bump in part to an increase in almond, tangerine and pistachio acreage. Almond acreage increased by 11,000, as did production per acre as well as value. Almond prices increased nearly $500 per ton. In all, almonds increased $113 million to $413 million, not counting hulls.
Acreage on pistachios increased, but prices decreased $720 per ton to $3,750. Nut acreage grossed $327 million, down from $397 million.
Almonds and pistachios made up Nos. 6 and 7 in top-grossing products.
Oranges, both navels and Valencia, experienced marked increases. Navel values jumped to $707 million from $589 million, and Valencias increased to $170 million from $132 million.
Vegetable crop values increased 15.2% to $19.93 million.
Field crops such as alfalfa, cotton, corn and wheat decreased by 5% in value to $496 million.
Tulare, Fresno and Kern counties vie each year for the title of top ag producing county in the country. This year, Kern County surpassed Tulare County with a gross production of $7.62 billion. Fresno County has not released its numbers yet.