Kern County Ag Commissioner Notes Mild Winter

Weather and Pest Control this Season In Kern County

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Glenn Fankhauser, Agricultural Commissioner for Kern County. He let us know his thoughts about the weather in his county this season.

He said it has been a mild winter and it may affect future crop production. “We are not sure how it is going to affect fruit set. It could be negative for some of our stone fruits and cherries, but on the bright side, the mild weather allows farmers to plant certain field and vegetable crops earlier than normal,” Frankhauser said. “The little rain and shortage of water will challenge growers again this year.”

Fankhauser says that Kern County is doing what they can to stop Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, which is spread by the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP).  HLB is the number one disease in citrus because once a tree is infected with a bacterium, it is deadly to the tree.

“We have our traps set, we are monitoring the levels, and we have a treatment coordinator that helps the growers to maximize their effect on the Asian Citrus Psyllid,” Frankhauser said.  “By making sure the treatments are precisely coordinated, they are able to knock down more of the populations. There have not been any positive HLB trees in Kern County.”

Of course, any trees that become positive to the disease are immediately destroyed.

“We also have a group of citrus growers who are visiting homeowners and gaining voluntary removal of citrus trees at home,” he said. “They pay a nominal amount of money to allow a citrus tree to be removed. Once removed, they replace the citrus tree with a non-citrus shade tree.”

Kern County Ag Ranks Second in State, Fresno Drops to Third

Ruben J. Arroyo, Kern County Agricultural Commissioner reported the 2013 gross value of all agricultural commodities produced in the county was $6,769,855,590, according to the 2013 Kern County Agricultural Crop Report, representing an increase (6%) from the revised 2012 crop value ($6,352,061,100). Thus, Kern County ag ranks second in state, with Tulare ahead, and Fresno behind.

Kern County’s top five commodities for 2013 were Grapes, Almonds, Milk, Citrus and Cattle & Calves, which make up more than $4.6 Billion (68%) of the Total Value; with the top twenty commodities making up more than 94% of the Total Value. The 2013 Kern County Crop Report can be found on the Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards website: www.kernag.com

Tulare County reported gross annual production in 2013 at $7.8 Billion, Fresno County, $6.4 Billion, and Monterey County, $4.38 Billion.

As predicted by many, including CaliforniaAgToday on July 15, 2014, Fresno County, long-time top ag county in the state—and in the nation—now ranks third in the state and has regressed in ag growth since 2011.

Les Wright, Fresno County Ag Commissioner, attributes much of the decrease to the water shortage, particularly exacerbated by a large part of the West Side being dependent on both state and federal surface water deliveries that have been curtailed by pumping restrictions due to the Endangered Species Act.