Colusa County crop values up

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Colusa County’s agriculture production for the third time in history has exceeded $900 million, according to the 2018 Crop Report. 

The gross production value for Colusa County agriculture in 2018 totaled $908.2 million, up 2.8 percent from $884 million in 2017. 

Agriculture Commissioner Gregory A. Hinton last week presented the 2018 crop report, an analysis of the gross values of all agriculture commodities grown in Colusa County, to the Colusa County Board of Supervisors, during their regular meeting on Aug. 27.

“Agriculture continues to be Colusa County’s major producing industry,” Hinton said. 

Almond production remains Colusa County’s top crop at approximately $326 million, up 6 percent from $304 million in 2017. 

While the number of almond acres harvested has steadily increased over the years, almond values have declined. Almonds were harvested on 65,870 acres in 2018, up from 61,151 in 2017, but the value of almonds dropped 6 percent to $4,497 per ton from $4,785 in 2017. Almonds were down 37 percent from their all-time high of $7,191 per ton in 2015. 

Rice, the county’s second leading crop, was valued at $234 million, up from $210 million in 2017, and increased in both number of acres planted and value per ton. 

Colusa County rice farmers harvested 143,174 acres of rice, up from 135,000 in 2017. Rice was valued at $359.80 per ton, up from $340 in 2017. 

Walnuts remain as Colusa County third leading commodity at $61 million, down from $84 million in 2017, as walnut values continue to drop. 

Walnut growers harvested 22,182 acres of walnuts in 2018, up from 18,526 acres in 2017, but saw a 38 percent drop in gross value from $2,227 per ton in 2017 to $1,378 per ton in 2018. Walnut values have dropped 60 percent from their all-time high of $3,461 per ton in 2014. 

Tomatoes, in fourth position, declined slightly in both acres harvested and value. Tomatoes were valued at $49.2 million, down from $51.3 million in 2017. They were harvested on 14,050 acres in 2018, down from 14,756 a year earlier.

Miscellaneous fruit and nut crops (Asian pears, apricots, peaches, pecans, pistachios, etc.,), valued at $30 million and up from $28.6 million in 2017, was ranked fifth. Miscellaneous fruit and nut crops were grown on 4,031 acres.

Sunflower seed production, which was knocked off the top 10 list in 2017, made a remarkable recovery to sixth place in 2018. Growers harvested 14.8 million pounds of sunflower seeds on 8,257 acres, valued at $28.3 million ($1.92 per pound), up from 7.1 million pounds on 7,862 acres in 2017, for a value of $13.4 million ($1.90 per pound).

Almond pollination (bees) maintained its seventh position in the top 10 at $27.1 million, up from $22.6 million in 2017. 

Cattle and calves production came back up to ninth place at $23.6 million, up from $18.1 million in 2017. 

Finally, wine grapes returned to the top 10 list after a four-year absence. More than 16,000 tons of wine grapes, valued at $855 per ton, up from $775 per ton in 2017, were harvested on 1,972 acres.

The production of organic rice, which debuted on the top 10 list in 2017 at $18.2 million, dropped significantly in 2018. 

Organic crops, including rice, alfalfa, almonds, asparagus, walnuts, and a various row crops combined totaled $11.7 million in 2018, down from $22.5 million the previous year. The number of registered organic farmers and ranchers has also declined, from 45 in 2017 to 39 in 2018, according to the report. 

The 2018 crop value of $908. 2 million has only been exceeded once – in 2013 – when total farm production had a gross value of $920 million, which was attributed to the increase in the yield and/or value of rice, almonds, and walnuts. It was also the last year rice production in Colusa County held the top position in terms of gross value. ■