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Almonds take top spot in county
Crop report unveils another record-breaking year
Almonds are the biggest crop in Stanislaus County. - photo by Contributed to the Courier


#1 Almond Meats — $1 billion
#2 Milk — $804 million
#3 Walnuts — $248 million
#4 Cattle & Calves — $235 million
#5 Chickens — $235 million
#6 Silage — $153 million
#7 Deciduous Fruit & Nut Nursery — $78 million
#8 Tomatoes — $68 million
#9 Grapes — $62 million
#10 Almond Hulls — $57 million

Stanislaus County's Annual Crop and Livestock Report for 2013 revealed yet another record breaking year for agricultural commodities, mainly in fruit and tree crops. The report, which was released last week, also marks the first year that the almond industry overtook milk production for the number one commodity spot.

The Stanislaus County's Annual Crop and Livestock Report is a yearly account of the region's agricultural production data. Compiled from a myriad of sources, the report incorporates data that has been accumulated from surveys filled out by producers, associations, and water districts.

Overall, the value of agricultural commodities produced last year in Stanislaus County increased 12 percent from 2012. The approximate $400 million increase is primarily a result of the increase in the production of almonds, walnuts, and milk. Almond acreage, yield, and price saw an increase, while walnuts and milk solely experienced an increase in price.

This is also the first year that the almond industry has overthrown the dairy business for the number one commodity spot. The nut's production value increased $389 million from last year's $736 million to successfully earn the title as the county's first $1 billion dollar crop. With these numbers, it was also announced that Stanislaus County is now the number one almond producer in the nation.

"We have the perfect climate for almonds here," said Agricultural Commissioner Milton O'Haire, "they are not very hard to grow and the return on investments for almonds has always been very good."

Milk's unprecedented move down to the number two spot can likely be attributed to the industry's decrease of dairies statewide. However, Milton stated that although the county witnessed a number of dairies closing down, the decline is most likely a result of increased pricing.

Even though the dairy industry lost its title as the number one commodity for Stanislaus County, the industry still experienced an all time high, increasing to $804 million, up from a 2012 value of $740 million. With the exception of manure, all of the commodities in the livestock and poultry industry encountered a production increase, including eggs and wool.

When it comes to predicting what the crop report for 2014 will look like, O'Haire stated that he does not have all the information he needs to make a reasonable assumption, although he knows that the county will continue to have more acres and permanent crops come into production.

"If we do get water this year, of course that's going to help overall," O'Haire said, "but this is the third year of a drought, so we would expect our row crop numbers to drop even lower than they did this year, which is just the reality of the situation."