Mill, livestock boost production

Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat

Agricultural production rose last year in Calaveras County on the strength of increased timber harvested for processing at the reopened Sierra Pacific Industries mill in Standard, according to an annual report released by Agricultural Commissioner Mary Mutz.

The value of agricultural production in the county rose to $23,782,000 in 2011, an increase of about 9.6 percent from 2010.

"This is primarily attributed to an increase in the amount and price of timber harvested," Mutz concluded in the report. "Other factors involved are an increase in price received for cattle and sheep, a good harvest for the pistachio crop and a modest increase in the value of walnuts."

The reopening of the mill, closed for more than two years before a retooling to handle smaller logs and utilize more computer technology, helped the Calaveras County timber crop grow more than 30 percent from 25,697 million board feet in 2010 to 33,661 in 2011.

SPI spokesman Mark Luster said the price of timber, though improved, is still below average.

"It bottomed out," Luster said. "It's still below what a typical market would be."

Luster said one has to look back to 2006 to find a typical middle-of-the-road market price for lumber.

Despite the substantial rise of timber in 2011, cattle and calves continued as Calaveras County's top cash cow, coming in at $7.6 million.

Four hundred fewer cattle were slaughtered last year but the unit price rose from $91 to $105 for the 11,000 animals the county produced.

Other major agricultural production values for 2011 are as follows:

• Grapes (Wine), $2,916,000

• Poultry, $2,894,000

• Walnuts, $1,360,000

• Nursery products, $300,000

• Pistachios, $169,000

• Sheep and lambs, $155,000

• Christmas trees, $124,000

• Olives, $116,000

• Grain hay, $104,000

Contact Sean Janssen at or 890-7741.

The Union Democrat
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