Tulare County Ag is Down But Strong

Tulare County Annual Crop Report is Down But Still Strong

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

The numbers are in for the 2015 Tulare County Annual Crop and Livestock Report.  Marilyn Kinoshita, Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Tulare County, reported, “We had an overall value of $6.9 billion, compared to last year, which was more than $8 billion,” which means the County led the nation in total crop value and dairy production, despite a decrease of nearly 14% in one year.

Tulare County’s top ten crops [crop value] in 2015 were:

  1. Milk
  2. Cattle & Calves
  3. Oranges- Navels & Valencias
  4. Grapes
  5. Almonds Meats & Hulls
  6. Tangerines – Fresh
  7. Corn – Grain & Silage
  8. Silage – Small Grain
  9. Pistachio Nuts
  10. Walnuts

Kinoshita explained, “Dairy is our number one industry here. Our milk production was off a little bit. We have fewer dairies in business now because of the low milk prices. Anytime your fresh market milk is off, that’s going to affect our overall value. A good 2/3 of that billion-dollar decrease came from the dairy industry. The price was low the entire year, as opposed to the year before.”

Marilyn Kinoshita, agricultural commissioner, Tulare County
Marilyn Kinoshita, Tulare County Ag Commissioner

 

Thus far, the reported 2015 county crop reports in the Central Valley are down this year. “Fresno County, for instance, was down 6.5% off its record $7 billion in 2014,” Kinoshita said.

 

“It has a lot to do with low water deliveries in Fresno and Tulare Counties,” she continued. “The smaller the water deliveries, the more efficient those growers have to be with that water. Anytime you’re pumping water out of the ground, it’s terribly expensive,” she noted.

 

“Some of our growers have had to decide, ‘All right, I’ve got this much water; I’m going to keep those blocks alive and I’m going to push an older block that isn’t producing as well.’ The returns aren’t as good as some of the newer plantings,” said Kinoshita.

 

Despite all of that, Kinoshita said agriculture does sit at the head of the table in Tulare County. “Yes, and we need a successful Ag industry to thrive here,” she said.

 

To view a video of the interview, click HERE.

 

Tricia Stever Blattler, executive director of the Tulare County Farm Bureau, noted the crop report demonstrates the strength of the agricultural industry. “I think every year when this crop report comes out, it is always a testament to the resiliency of this industry. This industry takes hard knocks, gets knocked down, then steps right back up to the plate and keeps swinging,” Blattler said. “The agricultural sector has a lot of outside challenges that impact the number that we see reported every year.”

 

Tricia Stever Blattler
Tricia Stever Blattler, executive director , Tulare County Farm Bureau

Blattler acknowledged the crop value numbers do not reflect net revenue for growers. “It’s always really important for our listeners to know that the crop value is a gross revenue number. When our Ag Commissioner steps to the microphone and speaks to our Board of Supervisors about this report each year, she’s reflecting values that are attributed to all of the gross revenue, and it’s not only the field value,” Blattler said.

 

“That gross number reported each year also represents our packing houses, our milk processing facilities—the creameries, the butter plants—the packing shedsall those other parts of our industry that [create] value in our industry,” said Blattler.

 

Blattler noted up or down, it’s all about the resiliency of farmers. “The industry has its years that are really blockbuster and it has its years when it falls back and we see a reduction acreage. We see reductions in surface water deliveries. The drought is still certainly playing a significant role in the numbers we’re seeing,” she explained.

 

With regard to surface water, Tulare County is in a bit of a unique position. “As an Eastside county, some of our water deliveries are not as subject to the situation that the Westside is in. In the same sense, we have some significant cutbacks that have been attributed to the San Joaquin River’s restoration and the biological opinions in the Delta—all have had an impact on the Central San Joaquin Valley [water] deliveries regardless of whether you’re Eastside or Westside.

 

“Also, as the exchange contractors either take greater deliveries of water or give up water, that also impacts the amount available to Eastside growers here in Tulare County,” she said.

 

In summary, 2015 Tulare Crop Report covers more than 120 different commodities, 45 of which have a gross value in excess of $1 million. Although individual commodities may experience difficulties from year to year, Tulare County continues to produce high quality crops that provide food and fiber to more than 90 countries worldwide.


Featured photo: Tulare County 2015 Crop Report

ACP Found Near Juice Plant

More Asian Citrus Psyllids Found in Tulare County, 10 ACPs near Juice Plant

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor, and Laurie Greene, Editor

 

Announced Today, more Asian Citrus Psyllids (ACP) were found recently in several Tulare County traps, two of which were adjacent to an orange juice plant near Tipton.

“There were a few [ACPs] on sticky traps on a residential tree, one in a commercial grove, and even more concerning, four on one and six on a second sticky card near the juice plant,” said Marilyn Kinoshita, Tulare County ag commissioner.” ACP is known to vector Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, a disease that is fatal for citrus trees.

Marilyn Kinoshita, Tulare County ag commissioner
Marilyn Kinoshita, Tulare County ag commissioner

“The juice plant ACP finds could have come from southern California trees, most likely from Ventura, Orange, Riverside, and Imperial Counties, that were stripped of crop and did not go through a shed,” said Kinoshita, referring to a necessary cleaning protocol. “It’s very frustrating because there’s a certain protocol in shipping citrus but not everybody follows it.”

“When citrus is field-run [from the field to the packing shed],” continued Kinoshita, “the fruit should be separated from stems and leaves—which may harbor ACPs—then cleaned and manipulated over rollers before being packed for shipping or transported in bulk by truck to the juice plant.”

“So it’s a real concern finding ACPs at the Tipton juice plant,” Kinoshita explained, “because it is isolated from our citrus belt and they are the first ACPs found near a plant. It means that the psyllids possibly hitchhiked to the plant in Tipton, which is right along Highway 99. Even if the fruit had been cleaned, the psyllids, which are strong fliers, could have ended up in the cab of the truck and transported to Tulare County,” noted Kinoshita.

Kinoshita noted protection spray protocols are now in motion. “We’ve got two active programs, residential treatments in unison with our orchard treatments, and those are all managed by a treatment coordinator who works with our treatment groups. These are smaller groups of growers, so their treatments are hopefully done within a 2-week period to cover an area and try to control this pest.”

“The Number One citrus county in California doesn’t need ACP,” said Kinoshita, “and heaven forbid they come in while infected with HLB disease! Already about 20 trees have tested positive for the fatal HLB—all in southern California, starting with Hacienda Heights in April 2012, with more found in and around San Gabriel residential areas, last year in July and this year in February.”

Kinoshita advocated for everyone to stay vigilant and keep educating—not only the citizens of the state, but these transporters too. “They need to be more careful,” said Kinoshita. “All equipment that moves though the citrus groves must be cleaned before moving into another grove. It’s going to take everyone’s cooperation.”

“There is so much capability for [ACP] hitchhiking into this County where we are ground zero for potential problems—for the sheer number of packing sheds, orange groves and juice plants. So it’s a pretty difficult situation, but fortunately we’ve got a system that is in place; we just have to keep at it and not let our guard down,” she said.