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Almonds almost knock out milk as number one county crop
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Stanislaus County Top Crops for 2012

Commodity                                        Value in millions

1. Milk                                                   $739

2. Almonds                                         $735

3. Chickens                                         $245

4. Cattle                                               $214

5. Walnuts                                           $213

6. Silage                                               $148

7. Tomatoes                                          $121

8. Grapes                                             $82

9. Turkeys                                           $74

10. Fruit and nut trees                           $64

Watch out milk, almonds are taking over.

In a record breaking crop year that has yielded $3.28 billion in gross income, almonds almost toppled milk as the number one product from the Stanislaus County, according to a  recent report by the Stanislaus County Agricultural Commissioner's office.

The almond overthrow comes in light of high production and demand for the product, with Stanislaus County producing over 235 million pounds of the crop last year.

Despite the close call, milk continues to reign supreme as the number one product, accounting for $739 million of the total agricultural income.

Dan Bernaciak, assistant agricultural commissioner for Stanislaus County, said the record-breaking year is largely due to expanding markets and increasing demands for the county’s products.

“A lot of the crops we’ve been producing have seen an increase in demand,” said Bernaciak.

Bernaciak applauded the efforts of California almond growers who now produce nearly 100 percent of the domestic almond supply and account for over 75 percent of the worldwide production.

Along with nuts, grapes and tomatoes also saw in increase in production, according to the report. This marks the first time grapes have cracked into the top 10 crops, contributing over $82 million to this year's total ag income.

The increase in grapes is largely due to the expanding wine industry in the Central Valley.

“The idea the Central Valley isn’t a wine producer is just wrong," said John Monnich, owner of Silkwood wines in Modesto.  “We want to change that perception.”

But the report wasn’t good news for all crops.

Alfalfa, which previously held a top 10 position, fell out the ranks with a drop of $9 million in gross income generated from the crop as compared to last year.

Bernaciak said the drop is largely due to the fact that land that was previously used to grow alfalfa, a feed crop, is being turned into more profitable crops due to the diminishing numbers of dairies.

Bernaciak also voiced concerns about future water availability and usage.

“You can't grow crops without the water,” said Bernaciak. “We need to be concerned about the receding reservoir levels and possibility of more dry years.”

Despite future concerns, Bernaciak applauded the efforts of the county’s growers and the agricultural industry as a whole and a mentioned the “multiplier effect,” which states that the revenue generated from crops multiplies into other parts of the economy.

According to Bernaciak, the effect is around three times the gross income of crops in Stanislaus County, meaning the industry as a whole is pumping over $15 billion into the area.

“Agriculture is the economic engine to our county,” he said. “Ag kept us afloat during downtimes, and is leading the way as we come out of it.”