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Ag production sees increase from 2020

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune File Photo

Almond, nuts and hulls: $760,205,000 — 2020 Rank: 1.


Madera County Agriculture commissioner/Sealer Rusty Lantsberger and his staff recently released the annual crop report and the county saw an increase of almost $100 million from the 2020 production.

The gross value of 2021 agriculture production was more than $2.45 billion, an increase of more than $95 million (or 4.92 percent) from 2020 in the ag report released in September.

“The increases were due to stronger commodity prices,” Lantsberger said. “We had increases in harvested acres in both in fruit and nut crops and vegetable crops. There was also demand. The commodity prices were up.”

However, despite the production values rising, so did the costs.

“On the flip side, all the inputs, the costs, were up, as well, he said. “We only look at the gross value. We are only looking at what the growers tell us. Just because the number went up, it doesn’t represent net losses or gains by the producers. The cost to produce everything went up. But, we also had commodity prices rise and had an increase in harvested acreage.”

Almonds, nuts and hulls remained the No. 1 commodity in Madera County, almost double No. 2, milk. The nuts were worth $760,205,000 last year while milk was $330,812,000.

“Our fruit and nut trees that were planted two or three years ago finally came into production. We had good yields, too,” Lantsberger said.

Making an entry into the top 10 were mandarins and tangerines with a value of more than $32 million and ranked No. 7.

“There was a little bit of increase of acreage,” Lantsberger said. “We can’t report if it’s just one grower that has the acreage. This is a confidential evaluation of the ag commodities. We have enough growers and enough acreage that we took out of the misc. portion. In the 2020 report, the mandarins and tangerines were in the misc. section. Because we met the criteria, they were able to stand alone.”

Grapes and pistachios traded positions from 2020 with grapes taking No. 3 while pistachios were No. 4.

“In 2021, because pistachios are alternate bearing — they have a good year and a light year — it was a light year,” Lantsberger said. “The harvest acreage went up, but the harvest acreage went down almost 10,000 tons. It was just an off year for pistachios. Coming into 2022, it should be a good year for pistachios.”

Bees, or pollination, remained at five with more than $66 million while cattle and calves were sixth at $51 million.

Replacement heifers remained at No. 8 just behind mandarins and tangerines.

Corn silage rose from No. 10 to No. 9 with just over $28 million. Figs dropped from No. 7 to No. 10 with a little more than $28 million. Nursery stock dropped from No. 9 to 13.

Despite the rise in commodity prices, Lantsberger warns that it’s not all good for the farmers.

“As we move into 2022, with the implementation of the sustainable groundwater management act, the drought and ongoing water concerns, it may change the landscape,” he said. “Growers are going to make different management decisions on what they are planting and growing. The cost of labor is going up and there’s a shortage. There are supply chain issues. The cost of transportation is going up. All of those things are becoming more and more expensive. The commodity prices are not keeping pace with the cost of what it takes to produce.”

After completing the crop report in September, Lantsberger’s staff is getting ready to start researching the 2022 years.

“As we run through the 2022 crop season, we will start sending out fliers,” he said. “Our staff will start working in January compiling the numbers. We send a survey to all of the growers. We ask them about their yields and the prices they got. We compile all that data together. We’re using information that is provided to us by our growers.”

Although Lantsberger and his staff relies on what the farmers tell him regarding prices, he does do his research to make sure the prices they are telling him are close to fact.

“If we have an outlier, we will follow up with it,” he said. “We also survey, once we gather our data, and meet with the San Joaquin Valley Ag Commissioners and their staff. We do fact check the numbers.”

Included in the crop report are the top crops 50 years ago, which combined to gross more than $105 million. Grapes, cattle and cotton were in the top five. Alfalfa was fourth, followed by milk.

In 2021, cotton isn’t a million dollar crop and alfalfa was 15th on the list.

“It’s fascinating to see how much Madera County has grown,” Lantsberger said. “It’s interesting to see what the top crops are. We had just 400 acres of cotton in the county last year.”

Lantsberger said the crop report is available at the Madera County Ag Commissioner’s website or in the county office.

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