Almonds back as county’s top crop as ag production value up 13 percent

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The gross value of Yolo County’s agricultural production increased by 13.9 percent between 2020 and 2021, according to the county’s 2021 crop report, with almonds back on top as the county’s most valuable crop.

The total value for all agricultural production in Yolo County in 2021 was more than $811 million, up from $711.8 million the year before.

Almonds contributed $137 million to that total, followed by tomatoes at $136.6 million. Rounding out the top ten commodities were wine grapes, organic production, rice, walnuts, alfalfa hay, sunflower seeds, pistachios and apiary.

All saw an increase in value except rice, which dropped from $67.6 million in 2020 to $38.7 million in 2021, and sunflower seeds which dropped from $33.4 million to $30 million.

According to Yolo County Agricultural Commissioner Humberto Izquierdo, although there was an increase in total crop value, “2021 was a challenging year due to water shortage.”

“This is reflected primarily in a 45 percent decrease in rice acreage,” Izquierdo wrote in the crop report being presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

“Seed crops were also down,” he said. “The overall value of our primary crop increases were due to strong pricing and an increase in almond production due to maturing trees.”

Almonds were the county’s most valuable crop in 2018 and 2019 but were supplanted by tomatoes in 2020. Prior to almonds ascending to the top of the list, tomatoes held the number one spot for nearly six decades.

But 2020 was a tough year for both almond and walnut growers, according to a report last year from the Yolo County Farm Bureau, which said the price of walnuts was regarded by most as below the cost of production and almonds at or below production costs.

The total value of almonds decreased from $157.7 million in 2019 to $98.2 million in 2020 before rebounding to $137.1 million in 2021.

Likewise, walnuts dropped from $35.8 million in 2019 to $27.5 million in 2020 before jumping to $37.5 million in 2021.

The county’s almonds and walnuts are in demand around the world, joining tomatoes, hay and seeds as the county’s top five exported commodities, according to the crop report.

Crops grown in Yolo County were shipped to 258 countries in 2021 with exports to Japan, China, India, Mexico and Australia leading the way.

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