California farms small but productive

California farms are smaller than the rest of the nation, but they more than make up for the lower acreage in their production values.

The average farm in the Golden State in 2012 was 328 acres, according to a recent report by two UC Davis researchers. In contrast, the average U.S. farm was 434 acres.

However, the researchers concluded, “The average market value of production per acre of farmland in California was $1,667, compared to $289 in the United States as a whole in 2012.”

Using federal Census of Agriculture data, the study found that the production value of an average farm was $547,510 in California and $187,097 for the U.S.

The report, by Emma C. Knoesen and Rachael E. Goodhue, was published in the May/June issue of Update from Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.

Raisin, olive harvest will be light

Lighter crops are predicted for both California’s raisin grapes and table olives this year, at least partly due to the drought.

The forecast for table olives is 50,000 tons, a drop of 45 percent from last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The crop has suffered from freezes and a lack of water.

Production for raisin grapes is forecast at 1.95 million tons, a decrease of 13 percent from a year earlier. The crop has struggled due to a lack of water and by hailstorms that hit some vineyards during bloom.

Record walnut crop expected

California walnut processors expect a record crop this fall, with a consensus estimate of 541,000 tons, about 10 percent more than last year’s harvest.

If accurate, the crop will be much larger than the previous record of 504,000 tons harvested in 2010.

That holds promise for San Joaquin County agriculture, where walnuts were the No. 2 cash crop in 2012, worth $457 million. The county leads the state in walnut production.

California’s severe drought has had no major impact on this year’s walnut crop, as farmers tapped groundwater reserves to offset the lack of rain and surface water. That is a limited resource, however, and may not be sustained should the drought continue.

Compiled by Robert Digitale. Submit items to robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com.