(June 5) Despite tough weather and markets this year for many of California’s Central Valley crops, grapes, oranges and almonds continue to hold firmly in the top 10 of crop values in Fresno and Kern counties.
In addition, peaches and nectarines showed gains in 2001.
In Fresno County, grapes came in second behind cotton with a gross value of $343.1 million. That compares to a gross value for grapes of $491.1 million in 2000, when it was the No. 1 crop. Cotton growers produced $368.1 million worth last year.
Grapes were a tough sell at times because of record heat in May of 2001 that weakened the crop later in the season. Shippers reported that quality problems made grapes harder to sell in late summer and fall.
Tomatoes came in at No. 5 on the Fresno County crop report at $206.7 million compared to $279.7 million in 2000.
Almonds ranked seventh in Fresno County at $149.6 million followed by oranges at $146.1 million. The ranking for almonds did not change from 2000, but oranges showed gains moving from No. 11 in 2000 to No. 8 in 2001. Gross value of the almond crop increased by $31.7 million in 2001.
Garlic and nectarines were two crops that also made the top 10 and showed gains in Fresno County. Garlic moved from No. 12 in 2000 to No. 9 in 2001.
About $123.8 million in garlic was sold.
Nectarines moved from the 14th position in 2000 ($78 million) to No. 10 in 2001 ($102.7 million).
The value of Fresno County peaches grew by $1.1 million in 2001 for a total value of $96.2 million. Fresno County plums decreased in value by $1.3 million for a total gross value of $95.4 million in 2001.
David Janzen, field director for the California Tree Fruit Agreement, Reedley, said California growers packed 21 million boxes of nectarines in 2001 and they would have packed more if the weather had been more kind.
Fresno County cherry production increased from 2,630 tons in 2000 to 3,860 tons in 2001, but growers received less money per ton.
The gross value of Fresno County cherries dropped from $17.3 million in 2000 to $15.7 million in 2001. The price paid to growers for cherries decreased more than a third, from $6,571 a ton in 2000 to $4,484 a ton in 2001.
The total gross production value of Fresno County crops reached slightly more than $3.2 billion in 2001, compared to just under $3.3 billion in 2000.
That makes Fresno the No. 2 county for gross production value in the state.
Robert Vandergon, assistant agricultural commissioner for Fresno County, said Fresno County had been the top grossing county for a number of years. In 2001, however, crop value of grapes and some other crops fell, and that put Fresno County in the second spot behind Tulare County, which is strong on dairy, livestock, poultry and citrus, Vandergon said.