Fresno County retains top spot in Ag production

FRESNO, Calif.

Ag production in Fresno County hit a record 5.9 billion dollars in 2010. That represents an 11.2% jump from a year earlier.

Valley farmers have benefitted greatly from a wet year. With so many crops ready for harvest Fresno County has maintained its hold as California's top crop producing county.

Ag Commissioner Carol Hafner presented the annual crop report to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Hafner said, "Of note the fruit and nut crops this year increased by 400-million dollars. Both almonds and pistachios had a great year."

For the first time pistachios rank as one of Fresno County's top 10 crops. The popular green nut is in the 8th spot.

Grapes remain the county's number one crop, worth 820 million dollars. Almonds are now number two while tomatoes are third.

Supervisor Henry Perea noted the farmers' success year after year but wondered why crop production didn't tail off during recent drought years.

Perea explained, "The magnitude of which it's portrayed but yet it's not reflected in the ag report. I would think we would see this dramatic, horrible drop in Fresno county ag but it's going up, not going down."

Hafner responded, "What ended up happening when the water shortage came about, growers were rather innovative in choosing crops that they knew would get their best bang for their buck - in particular, tomato, processing tomatoes."

The resurgence of cotton was apparent in the crop report. Its acreage has doubled in the last year. But not all the news was positive. Livestock and poultry products were down 30%. Low milk prices have hurt dairy operators and high feed prices have decreased the number of beef cattle.

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