Agricultural production rose in Tuolumne County last year, driven largely by strong growth in the livestock industry, according to an annual report from the Tuolumne County Agriculture Commissioner's office.
The value of agricultural commodities produced in the county increased by more than $1.6 million in the 2010 growing season, following three consecutive years of decline, according to the Tuolumne County Crop and Livestock report.
The value of all agricultural commodities produced in the county last
year was estimated at nearly $21.9 million. It was a 8.2 percent
increase over 2009, which had a production value of $20.2 million.
While most crop categories experienced increases, the largest
growth was seen in livestock which increased by $1.8 million to a total
value of nearly $15 million in 2010. Cattle and calves, sheep, lambs,
turkeys, goats and broilers all rose in value because of higher prices
and greater production, according to the report.
Livestock accounts for nearly 70 percent of all agricultural products produced in Tuolumne County.
Following three years of drought, above average rainfall that fell
during the spring of 2010 resulted in one of the highest production
years on record for range land forage, according to the report. This
record production contributed to a 22 percent jump in field crop
values, to $3.5 million.
While most categories increased, timber production and nurseries,
including Christmas tree production, continued to decline due to the
ongoing depressed economy.
Timber accounts for more than 11 percent of the agricultural
products in Tuolumne County, and brought in more than $2.4 million in
2010. The timber harvest was down from more than $3.2 million in 2009.
"All and all, the crop report is good news," said Sasha Farkas, president of the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau.
He said that even though prices remain low, they are better than a
year ago. Next year's crop report will likely show improvement in
timber production due to higher prices for processed lumber and
increasing tree harvesting in the Stanislaus National Forest, he said.
Production for the 2011 growing season will also be aided by
increasing direct sales of locally grown fruits, vegetables and meats
at farmers markets, he said. Rising interest in agritourism to local
vineyards, apple ranches, olive oil orchards and nurseries is also a
factor in keeping the local farm economy healthy.
"I think this year is going to shape up to be a better year,"
Farkas said. "Barring a spring freeze, Tuolumne County agriculture will
continue to do well."
Fruit and vegetable values rose despite negative weather and market
conditions, as demand for locally grown grapes and olives increased
last year, according to the report. Freezing temperatures and snow in
late November damaged 50 percent of the olive crop just as harvest
began. Saturated inventories of wine, coupled with cooler, wetter early
fall weather resulted in some grapes not being harvested.
The county maintains pest detection traps for several crop damaging
species including the gypsy moth, glassy winged sharpshooter, light
brown apple moth, European grapevine moth, Japanese beetle and the
Mediterranean fruit fly. None of the 140 inspected ag shipments into
the county were found to contain pests.
Ag commissioner Vicki Helmar presented the findings to the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors last week.
"I wish to express my appreciation to the agricultural producers,
organizations and public agencies that have cooperated in providing
data for this report," she said in prepared statement.
Contact Ryan Campbell at email@example.com or 588-4526.