LAKE COUNTY— For the first time in six years, the gross value of Lake County’s agricultural production fell well below $ 100 million, setting a record as the largest decline in 10 years. The county’s commodities in 2020 totaled $ 75,471,368, down 29% from 2019 due to “significant declines in the value of wine grapes, timber, nuts and field crops,” according to the report on the 2020 harvests presented to the supervisory board on Tuesday by Agriculture Commissioner Steven. Hajik.
Board chairman Bruno Sabatier has expressed concern about the downward trend, but the report has not prompted any board discussion or public comment.
With a drop of 29% in 2020, 5% in 2019 and 8% in 2018, the department has seen the gross value of its agricultural products fall by 42% in three years. The three-year decline followed three consecutive years of gains – 6% increase in 2017 to a gross value of $ 120,802,142; 12% in 2016 for a gross value of $ 113,829,790; and 9% in 2015 for a gross value of $ 101,135,648. “2017 was the best year I can remember,” Hajik said at the meeting.
The grand total of $ 75.47 million for 2020 is the sum of the following: $ 70,308,792 or 93.2% for fruits and nuts; $ 1,235,000 or 1.6% for field crops and seed crops; $ 2,553,500 or 3.4% for animal production; $ 31,522 or 0.06 of 1% for forest products; $ 170,500 or 0.22 of 1% for vegetable crops; $ 90,300 or 0.12 of 1% for livestock and poultry products; and $ 1,072,170 or 1.4% for nursery production.
The report highlights the latest data on the county’s three main products – wine grapes, pears and walnuts. The gross value of wine grapes, the county’s main crop for at least 20 years, was $ 52,509,710, down 37% from 2019. Total tonnage was 39,520 and total grape acreage was of 10,009, a loss of five acres. The price per tonne of wine grapes has fallen by 26%. Cabernet Sauvignon was consistently at the top of the wine grape list with a gross value of $ 24,258,288, followed by Sauvignon Blanc at $ 15,489,621, Petite Syrah at $ 3,310,500 and Chardonnay at $ 2,553,300. . Commenting on the decline of wine grapes, Hajik said in an interview, “There are far too many wine grapes in California now. There are also people who thought that the grapes in Lake County were damaged by smoke in recent years, whether this is true or not.
The gross value of pears was $ 16,626,482, up 13% from 2019. Total production decreased by 3,256 tonnes and the price per tonne of pears increased by 30%. Bartletts led the way with a gross value of $ 15,534,991 for fresh, canned and by-product products. The gross value of the nuts was $ 1,047,600, down 49%, and production was down 3%. The price per tonne of nuts has fallen by 43%. “Nuts peaked in 2015,” Hajik said. “Today there are more nuts than the public asks for. And for the past two years, growers have had to deal with severe frosts in late October and November.
The report also notes increases in the production of nurseries (39%), vegetables (220%), and miscellaneous livestock (10.995%). Miscellaneous livestock refers to goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, meat chickens and other meat birds. Declines were noted in miscellaneous fruits (4%), animal and poultry production (40%), cattle (14%), field crops (28%) and timber (98%). Miscellaneous fruits include apples, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, melons, olives, etc. For reporting purposes, the gross value of pears represents the value of pears after packaging and processing. The figures do not indicate the value of the pears at the time of harvest or the gross income of the producers. However, the gross value of all other commodities included in the report represents the value of each commodity at the time of harvest.
Commenting on the overall decline in gross value, Hajik said, “I am concerned about the continuing decline, but there is nothing the government can do about it. Can we control the market? Can we control the weather? Can we control the workforce?
Hajik predicted that the 2021 numbers probably wouldn’t be that far off the 2020 numbers. “I’m sure things will be the same for 2021,” he said.
The report lacks any mention of cannabis. Hajik said: “Cannabis is not recognized as an agricultural crop.”
Crop reports are available at http://www.lakecountyca.gov/Government/Directory/Ag/Agprograms/Crop.htm.