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Grape values down, other crops up in 2010

  • Vicente Aguilar removes shriveled pinot noir grapes on the first pass through Cattalini Vineyards near Forestville on Tuesday morning, Sept. 28, 2010. The vineyard suffered a 30% loss due to recent heat waves.

Winegrapes fell significantly in value, but most of Sonoma County's major farm crops experienced healthy gains last year.

Agriculture production fell nearly 9 percent overall to almost $594 million in 2010, according to the annual crop report presented Tuesday to county supervisors.

The loss was due primarily to a 16 percent drop in the value of the grape crop, which totaled $390 million. Unseasonably cool summer weather, followed by a scorching heat wave, contributed to smaller grape yields.

The remainder of the county's crops grew by 8 percent to more than $203 million.

"Wine grapes obviously were down, but a lot of other areas actually showed a rebound in 2010," said Lex McCorvey, executive director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. The report, he said, highlights the cyclic nature of farming.

Ten of the county's 15 "million dollar crops" reported increases in value. Among them, dairy milk rose 20 percent to $77.7 million and the value of cattle and calves grew 25 percent to $11.6 million.

"I think it just shows the importance of having a diversified agricultural base here in Sonoma County," said Joe Pozzi, a Bodega sheep and cattle rancher and the Farm Bureau's president.

The crop report, an annual update since 1932, includes a broad look at county agriculture. It presents gross values, not net farm income.

Among the major crops with increasing values were poultry, up 6 percent to $43 million; nursery ornamentals, up 6 percent to $10.9 million; vegetables, up 9 percent to $8.2 million; late variety apples, up 10 percent to $4.2 million; cut flowers, up 18 percent to $2.8 million; sheep and lambs, up 36 percent to $2.5 million and Gravenstein apples, up 27 percent to $1.7 million.

After grapes, poultry products had biggest financial loss, with value dipping 21 percent to $20.8 million.

Miscellaneous nursery products fell 20 percent to $4.9 million and nursery bedding plants declined 11 percent to $4.2 million.


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