Saturday, 17 March 2012

The San Jaoquim Valley.

We left Los Banos and headed off to tha area of Visalia where we stopped in at the Rabo bank to get the banking perspective on agriculture in the San Jaoquim valley, it was an interesting discussion on what they saw as the oppotunities for the farming comunnity.After  there we moved into a place round Corcoran where we visited J.G.Boswell farming operation, a third generation family farm that farm 125000 acres and at peak time employ 1500 people . They predominately grow cotton, and rotate with tomatoes and saflower. They have there own cotton gin, cotton oilseed, saflower seed, as well as there own tomato processing plant to produce tomato paste that is shipped ll over the world. They are the world largest irrigated cotton,and tomato farmers and produce 3.5% of the worlds tomato products.

Today we were at the Westland irrigation area,in Fresno, there day to day task are to manage the Westlands irrigation area, the scheme was built in the 1950's 1960's we were told of the complexities of the water systems and the history of Californian law that governs they way water is handled.I never realised how much  of a powerhouse agriculture is for California the two counties that are in the Westlands scheme Fresno and Merced have more agricultural output than the lower agricultural producing countries in the world. That being said it is my opinion that they will face some tough decisions with water use in the not to distant future, especially with the pressure from urban expectations regarding what is sustainable. After that we went to see a cattle feed lot that was spread over 800 acres which included it own feed mixing plant grain and lucerne hay storage that could sustain them for two weeks, bearing in mind they at the moment were feeding 1400 tonne per day,and they are not at full capacity which is 120,000 they only had 95000 today.This only part of there large farming enterprise, they process there own beef ,as well as market there own brand.

The big thing in farming here at the moment though is tree nuts, ie :walnuts, almonds,pastachios, this business is literally going "NUTS" this commodity has been growing between 7/ 13% per year with exports projected to top 2. Billion pounds (you can do the conversion). The net return on some of these nut crops is up to 10,000 per hectare, after a four year lead time from planting to bearing , I was told that one guy did so well that he p aid his debt with the first crop, there are thousands of hectares of permanent tree crops here.

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  1. Can you believe the size of some of the farms that you have visited and the scale of their personal operations? Just reading your last paragraph made me think...Maybe it's time to get the mango trees OUT and get those nut trees IN.(Every little bit helps).

  2. suzanne granshaw18 March 2012 at 04:36

    It is amazing to see the diversity of the agriculture and farming systems that you have seen. It has been good to follow your trip as you go along, makes us feel as we are on the trip with you but without the travelling!