Madera Tribune File Photo
Almonds, which held the top spot of Madera County’s leading ag crop in 2014, remained king in 2015 at a value of $787,609,000.
Madera County farmers and ranchers took it on the chin for almost a quarter-billion dollars last year, according to the Madera County Crop and Livestock Report for 2015.
According to Madera County Agricultural Commissioner Stevie McNeill, “the gross value of all production in 2015 was $2,017,446,000, a decrease of $248,435,000 from 2014.”
McNeill attributed the drop to lower prices for some commodities.
Almonds continued to be the county’s most valuable crop, in terms of farm-gate prices, with a value of $787,609,000, even though there was a price decrease per ton compared with 2014.
Last year, almonds sold for an average of $6,976 per ton, compared with the $7,455 almonds fetched in 2014.
Almond hulls, which are included in the farm-gate price, sold for $119 per ton in 2015 compared to $145 per ton in 2014.
Grapes took over the No. 2 spot for 2015 farm-gate income, from No. 3 the previous year.
Total grape product value in 2015, at $298,350,000 was actually down from the 2014’s $317,503,000, but the total was still higher than the milk total, which pushed milk out of the No. 2 spot.
The most valuable grapes were red wine grapes, posting a total farm-gate income of $82,732, while white wine grapes brought $51,962,000.
Milk, which in 2014 at $422,034,000 in farm-gate income was the No. 2 crop, fell to No. 3 in 2015 with a total farm-gate income of $262,057.
The cause of the drop was a collapse in prices the dairy farmers received for their products. In 2015 dairy farmers received $13.86 per hundredweight for milk market product, compared to $21.93 in 2014. For milk manufacturing product, farmers received $17.22 in 2015 compared to $22.97 in 2014.
One bright spot was olives. In 2015 olives brought $682 per ton, for a total of $2,120,000, compared with $458 per ton and a total of $416,000 in 2014.
Another success story was pollination, which yielded beekeepers $44,694,000 in 2015 as opposed to $38,664 in 2014.
According to the crop report, 701,720 acres were harvested in 2014, of the county’s totally acreage of 1,366,998. Forest acreage is 414,000, while U.S. parkland acreage totals 83,000.
Madera County ranks 24th in total acreage among California counties, but is ranked 9th in agricultural production. The county is ranked 21st in total agricultural production among the counties of the United States.