Friday, June 09, 2006

Record Harvest in 2005 for Solano Farmers

Record Harvest in 2005 for Solano Farmers
By Nathan Halverson

FAIRFIELD - While farmers are still drying off from this year's heavy rains, they might be slightly comforted in knowing 2005 was a record-breaking harvest.

The value of agricultural products from Solano County in 2005 reached $238 million, a 12.7 percent increase over 2004. The previous record was set in 2003 with a value of $214 million. Solano County ranked 30th in the state for total agricultural product value.

"Overall it reflects a pretty good year for local agriculture," said Solano County Agricultural Commissioner Jearl Howard. "It was a much better year than what we are starting off with for 2006."

But Howard notes the record harvest doesn't necessarily mean boon times for farmers and ranchers.

"The cost of production has skyrocketed during the last year," he said. "So the increase in revenues doesn't mean they have more money in their pocket."

Joe Martinez, a farmer in Northern Solano County, said everything from fertilizer and gas to farm equipment has gone up in price.

"Anyone who says inflation is only two percent is a fool," he said. "We're seeing increases in the cost of equipment of 10 to 15 percent."

Still, Martinez said it was a profitable year.

"Overall the prices and yields were substantially up last year," Martinez said.

Crop reports are used by economists and financial institutions to track statistics, Howard said.

Financial institutions will use them to evaluate county averages and compare them to the production levels of a farmer who is applying for a loan, Howard said.

"They are also used for incidences like what happened this year with the request for agricultural disaster declaration due to the rains," he said.

Jack Mariani, a walnut farmer outside of Winters, said last year's walnut harvest was a record.

"To be honest, it was probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing for farmers. It was record prices with record yields," he said.

Both Martinez, who also grows walnuts among other crops, and Mariani said this year's walnut harvest will be less than last year's, but still good.

"It won't be last year's record crop, but it should be close to it," he said.

Nathan Halverson can be reached at 427-6934 or

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