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Central Valley Ag Beat: When Cows Fly,Mandarins Shine


When cows fly-13 at 7.12.36 AMDairy Operators Fight Methane Regulation

California dairy farmers are fighting against a bill  pushed by the Air Resource Board that could further regulate methane emissions from their cows arguing they have already  reduced their carbon “hoofprint” by 63%. They says regulation of flatulence is unrealistic. The” flatulence police need to to be reigned in.” they say. The bill could live or die by August 31.

Big Corn Crop Good News For Livestock Farmers

The USDA is now forecasting corn production will reach a record 15.2 billion bushels, up 613 from the July projection.According to the first survey-based corn yield forecast, at 175.1 bushels per acre, the number is up 7.1 bushels from August’s trend-based projection and above the record 171 bushels in 2014-’15. The USDA’s Crop Production report indicates that nearly all Corn Belt states, except Minnesota and South Dakota, are forecast to have yields above last year.

Milk Prices Recover

Milk commodity prices are up this month led by cheddar cheese at $1.88 for barrels,highest since late 2014.With this year’s feed cost down,milk checks are up for a change. California’s  big world competitor New Zealand’s dairy farmers, have cut their herd size as have we-so there is the prospect of less milk sloshing around world markets.

Water Woes Hurt Fresno Crop Values

Less westside water hurt Fresno County’s crop value in 2015, down from $7 billion in 2014 to $6.6 billion – some 6.5%. The lack of surface water was reflected in the value of field crops last year – down 42%. Cotton decreased in total value over 47 million dollars – down 35 percent from last year as acres decreased by over 7,000 acres and the price received for Pima lint decreased by over 22 percent. Harvested acres of dry beans decreased by over 70 percent resulting in a $1,930,000 decrease in overall value. Alfalfa hay was down over 21 million dollars with decreases in both the acres harvested as well as the price received. Besides field crops there was a huge drop in milk receipts in 2015 with the value dropping 31.3%. Walnuts also took a big fall based on the decline in nut prices falling from over $40 million in2014 to $23.4 million. Almonds remain the county’s top crop.

Mandarin Plantings Near 60,000 Acres

Central Valley growers continue to favor to Mandarin varieties of citrus as statewide plantings grew to nearly 60,000 acres. A new USDA report says Tulare County still leads the state  with 20,500 acres followed closely by Kern County. A look at new plantings of trees – non bearing acres – finds Kern County with 3941 acres and Tulare County with 3651 acres of new mandarin variety trees.The most popular variety is Tango with 3000 acres. Growers in Tulare County are also planting plenty of lemons with 1436 acres of new trees – the largest non-bearing acreage in the state.Tulare County leads the state in new plantings of navel oranges. We have some 68,000 acres in the county – half the state’s total.

Mandarins Fetching High Price

Mandarin citrus (tangerines) are fetching higher per unit prices year- over- year. According to the 2015 Fresno County Crop Report mandarins were worth $166,000 per ton in 2015 compared to $121,000 a ton in 2014. Meanwhile production per acre improved in 2015 as well at 13.6 tons per acre vs 9.9 tons per acre in 2014.The upshot was that Fresno ‘s mandarin farmers income almost tripled from $72 million in 2014 to $196.5 million. Strathmore citrus farmer Gerald Denni says “people are taking notice.It is definitely impacting the navel orange market.” USDA says tangerine production in the state is expected to be up 19% in 2016.

Walnut Price Stay Down

Central Valley walnut farmers continue to suffer low prices compared to 2 years ago – down by around half says local farmer Sam Sciacca. The price has dropped form around $2 lb –  two years ago to under $1 today and  a little better for the upcoming crop.He says the drought has stressed trees and yields have fallen.

olives USDA  at 8.00.40 AMSmaller Olive Crop Predicted

California’s 2016 olive crop looks to be 17 percent smaller than last years crop of 78 thousand tons. Olives are  alternate bearing pushing yield up and down each year  But its been below 100 thousand tons since 2010.

San Luis Reservior 08-12 at 8.51.29 AMSan Luis Reservoir Water Level Rises

Westside farmers are suffering from a lack of surface water again as water levels in San Luis Reservoir have declined to a record low 10%.The government has cut back on pumping water south to help fish. That has dried  up water in the reservoir near Los Banos.But in the past few weeks the gauge is climbing as pumping has increased and expectation is that lake will fill into early winter.

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