Mixed ag report from county, down overall

Value of livestock, pasture up, vegetables down

San Benito County continues to be one of the top five producing counties in California of specialty vegetable crops, spinach, lettuces and salad mix products.

The 2017 Crop and Livestock Report, prepared annually by county Agriculture Commissioner Karen Overstreet, offered a very mixed set of production results, with overall production down 4 percent. The county is required by law to produce this report.

“The economic impact of production agriculture to our local economy is much greater than the gross production value detailed in this report,” said Karen Overstreet, county agriculture commissioner.

“It is a fundamental, and an often unidentified fact that agriculture provides additional value well beyond the $351 million dollars in gross product sales to San Benito County’s economy.”

“Labor, logistics and traffic are beginning to hinder the industry,” she said in the report. “We will learn more about these effects over the next few years to come.”

San Benito Countu’s agricultural industry produces a variety of commodities, including numerous specialty vegetable crops, fruits, nuts, choice beef and quality wine grapes.

In 2017, the overall value of the county’s agricultural decreased by 4 percent from 2016, down $13.8 million, from $365.1 million to $351.3 million, with the biggest decrease in vegetable and row crops, down more then $20 million.

The value of one other relatively small category for San Benito County, livestock and poultry, was down more than 60 percent, to $994,000.

The value of other agricultural production categories—field crops, fruits and nuts and cattle, increased in 2017.

The year saw average yields in most commodities, Overstreet reported.

Spinach moved to number two in overall production value and broccoli/broccolette made the list at number seven. Both increases were primarily due to an increase in acreage.

More and more land is being committed to leafy greens and miscellaneous baby greens available to consumers in bags at the market. A lower return in many cases was seen in the boxed commodity market.

Cattle prices maintained all year and were up slightly compared to 2016. Producers held onto to an average number of replacements to rebuild their herds.

Overstreet reported that 2017 was a good year for tree crops as yields were up. Cherries had a good crop after enduring consecutive poor years due to weather. In general, fruit bearing trees had a great yielding year with superb size and quality.

Walnut yields were consistent and the quality was slightly better yet still a little below normal.

Apricot harvest results were substantially higher in 2017 than 2016, more than 46 percent, to $2.4 million.

Walnut prices dropped significantly again for the third year in a row.

Wine grape yields were off slightly and prices were pretty much even. This year growers experienced a great amount pressure from the production standpoint.  Wine grapes are the county’s biggest fruit crop, $27.6 million in 2017, and $31 million in 2016.

The figures in the county ag report do not represent net profit to the producers. The figures are also periodically averaged and or rounded in the process to achieve the end value.

San Benito County’s Top 10 Commodities

Rank   Product                      Value              % of total       % change from 2016

1          Misc. vegetables        $48 million     14 %               – 13%

2          Spinach                      $37 million     11 %               + 48%

3          Lettuce, salad mix     $34.9 million  10%             –  21%

4           Wine grapes              $27.6 million    8%             –  11%

5          Lettuce, romaine       $25.6 million    7%             –  23%

6          Peppers, all                $22 million      6%                –  33%

7          Broccoli                       $16.9 million    5%             + 29%

8          Kale                            $14.9 million    4%                –  22%

9          Pasture                       $13.9 million    4%                + 10%

10       Misc. fruits and nuts $12.5 million    4%                +   2%

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