almonds on ground
Photo by the Almond Board of California

Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice

Kern County farmers saw a 7% reduction in crop revenue in 2022 as a result of harsh weather conditions and increased water regulations. The top five commodities in Kern remain the same from 2021 — grapes, citrus, milk, almonds, and pistachios — but milk products replaced pistachios as the third commodity, according to the 2022 crop report.

The sharp decline in crop revenue is likely linked to the $1 billion decrease in value for the top five commodities — in 2021, they represented $6.1 billion of the total value and $5 billion in 2022.

Kern County Agricultural Commissioner Glenn Fankhauser told the Bakersfield Californian that he was unaware of the reason behind the revenue drop, but unfavorable weather conditions during the three-year drought shrunk California’s total farmland.

The drought peaked in the Central Valley last year, resulting in extreme revenue losses with 1.3 million acres left unplanted, according to a study from UC Merced. Compounded with less acreage, crop losses due to weather events last year totaled $21.4 billion.

Farmers also saw a reduction in water allotment from the state in 2022, leading to a combined 752,000 fallowed acres of irrigated farmland, the UC Merced study explained.

Surface water deliveries for 2021 and 2022 decreased by roughly 43% and resulted in increased groundwater pumping. Now, 12 basins in the Central Valley are in critical overdraft. The rainfall the state received this year is unlikely to improve groundwater allotments, John C Moore III told the Californian.


For the first time since 2018, pistachios did not have a record-breaking crop year and lowered in value by half a billion. Despite the loss, California pistachio growers are hopeful for a larger 2023 crop and began harvest in late August.

The abundance of rain throughout the Central Valley this year resulted in flooding, which placed several orchards underwater, but the colder bloom is expected to benefit the crop overall.

However, the heavy rain obstructed the bloom period for almonds, and Tropical Storm Hilary further delayed the harvest season. Almonds ranked fourth in commodities for 2022 despite a 21.8% decrease in value from the previous year.

The top two commodities — grapes and citrus — saw a drop in overall value but remained stable in a broader market outlook.

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