Introduction to California Agriculture: Fresno County

Statistics (Photo: U.S. Embassy)

 – by Katelyn Vargas

While mention of the State of California will conjure images of Hollywood and its two famous cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California is actually the leading agriculture producing state in the United States, with 80,500 farms and ranches producing 11 percent of the total U.S. food production.

California has difficult time farming due to the lack of rain that we get yearly but with the use of irrigation we can grow plants that thrive in all parts of California. The varied climates throughout the state of California lend themselves to a wide range of agricultural products that can be grown all over the state.

The year 2014 will be trying, as it is considered a drought year. The ground water level has significantly dropped so we are going to be working with a lot less water this year. The Department of Water Management in California is stating that these past two years are the driest years that California has had. There is still a chance for more rainfall this year, but as of now this year is shaping up to be the driest year on record.

Agriculture production in Fresno County is incredibly diverse.  According to Fresno County Farm Bureau, “Fresno County is home to 1.88 million acres of the world’s most productive farm land”.  Fresno County farms 3.84 million acres and raises more than 350 different crops. The top 10 crops in Fresno County are (Fresno County Farm Bureau):

Fresno’s Top 10 Crops

  • Grapes
    $1.1 billion

    Since 2002 grapes have remained number one on the county’s top 10 crop list. In 2012 grapes became the first billion dollar crop for Fresno County.
  • Almonds
    $1 billion

    Almonds remained number two on the top 10 crop list. Spain is one of the top export destinations for California almonds.
  • Poultry
    $729 million

    Poultry moved to the number three position on the top 10 crop list. The total value of turkeys decreased due to a decrease in the price per pound and the number of birds sold. The price for hatching egg production increased this year by 32.67 percent, however total production was down by 34.03 percent, resulting in an overall decrease in value of 12.47 percent.
  • Milk
    $450 million

    Milk moved to the fourth place on the top 10 crop list. However, prices for both market and manufacturing milk decreased this year.
  • Tomatoes
    $434 million

    Tomatoes moved to number five on the top 10 crop list. Total tomato area increased to 106,030 acres or an increase of 9.8 percent. However, the total value decreased by 7.9 percent from 2011.
  • Cattle and Calves
    $380 million

    Cattle and calves moved to the number six spot in the top 10 crop list. The valued increased by 8.11 percent from 2011 due to increases in prices.
  • Cotton
    $272 million

    Cotton moved to the number seven spot in the top 10 crop list. The total value for all cotton decreased 31.37 percent, from 2011.
  • Pistachios
    $196 million

    Pistachios moved to the number eight spot. The total value increased by 10.97 percent due to an increase in harvested acres.
  • Peaches
    $170 million
    Peaches entered the top 10 crops again, coming in at number nine. The total value for peaches increased by $66,169,000, or 63.81 percent, due to an increase in harvested acres as well as an increase in production per acre.
  • Plums
    $145 million
    Plums ranked number 10 in the top 10 crops list. The total value was 137,332,000 with 14,591 acres harvested, an increase of 8.6 percent over 2011.

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