Declines for cherries, wine grapes help edge crop values lower

The cherry fruit is much too green in San Benito County.

San Benito County saw a $2.1 million drop—or a less than 1 percent of the total—in gross agricultural value in 2014 compared to the prior year, according to the most recent crop report approved by county supervisors this week.
Agriculture is the county’s largest industry and represented about $328.3 million of value in 2014, which is down about $2.1 million from the $330.4 million total in 2013, according to the report.
San Benito County’s agriculture industry generated record revenues in 2013 and eclipsed $300 million in value for the first time, and 2014 nearly kept pace.
Karen Overstreet, the county’s agricultural commissioner attributed the losses to the weather at the Tuesday county board meeting. Cherries and wine grapes were examples of crops that did not due well with the mild weather, she said. Crops that required chilling hours or were dependent on rainfall suffered substantial losses or failure, according to the report.
In 2013, a total of 1,613 tons of cherries were produced, but in 2014 that number was down to just 605 tons, according to the report. Value figures plummeted correspondingly from about $4.5 million in 2013 to $1.6 million in 2014, according to the document.
Hay and grain crops—which depend on rain—also took a hit, Overstreet told the Free Lance before the crop report was released.
In 2013, about 12,900 acres of crops produced 17,802 tons of hays and grains and brought in about $2.7 million, according to the report. But in 2014, about 11,000 acres of crops produced just 1,050 tons of hays and grains and brought in only $285,000, a roughly $2.4 million decline.
Vegetable and row crops represented the highest-value figures, capturing about $226.8 million of the $328.3 million in total value brought in for 2014, according to the report. The county produces a variety of commodities and is one of the top five producers in California for spinach, lettuces, salad mix and peppers, according to the document.
Fruit and nut crops increased by about $7.4 million in total value between the 2013 and 2014 crop reports, according to the document. Cattle production increased by about $6.1 million in total value between the most recent crop report and the prior one.
Look back to read the full crop report.

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