CORVALLIS - Overall, 2003 gross sales of Oregon agricultural commodities rose significantly over year-earlier levels, but some sectors of Oregon agriculture did not perform as well as others.
Larry Burt, Oregon State University Extension economist, gave the following highlights for individual commodities:
Blueberries were the leading berry crop in 2003. Lower production was more than offset by a 30 percent increase in prices resulting in an 8 percent increase in estimated sales to $21.3 million. Marion blackberries, strawberries and cranberries all enjoyed price increases as well.
- Tree fruits and nuts
In general, acreage, yield and prices in 2003 were mixed. Winter pears were up 8 percent in gross sales to $53 million. Harvested acreage of sweet cherries was up 5 percent, yields were up 23 percent due to good growing and harvesting conditions, and prices were up 13 percent, combining for a 45 percent increase in gross farm sales to $52.3 million.
Price increases for apples and hazelnuts contributed to higher gross sales for both commodities while wine grape sales were up slightly and Bartlett pear sales dropped 18 percent from 2002 levels.
Improved prices for many of the fresh vegetable commodities lead to a noticeable increase in gross sales for this sector. Slightly lower production was offset by a 53 percent increase in grower prices for storage onions. That resulted in estimated gross farm sales of $62.8 million for this commodity, 49 percent greater that the previous year. Lower production of fresh sweet corn was more than offset by a 24 percent increase in prices, which resulted in a 16 percent increase in estimated gross farm sales to $10.2 million.
Combined, gross farm sales of the three major processing crops - snap beans, sweet corn and green peas - were estimated to be $44.3 million, down about 2 percent from the previous year, due to changes in harvested acreage, yield and prices.
Harvested acreage of wheat was slightly higher and yields were estimated to be 17 percent higher, mostly due to improved growing conditions in 2003, resulting in a 7 percent increase in gross farm sales to $134.6 million. Prices in the last few years have fluctuated. The estimated price of $3.65 per bushel in 2003 was actually 13 percent higher than the 2001 per bushel price.
- Grass & Legume Seeds
With some exceptions, harvested acreage and yields were down and prices were mixed. Perennial ryegrass was the leading seed crop in the state, enjoying a price increase of 43 percent and an estimated increase in 2003 gross farm sales of 42 percent to $126.5 million.
In contrast, tall fescue, the second leading seed crop, experienced a 13 percent decrease in gross farm sales to $76.1 million. A 15 percent decrease in harvested acreage and somewhat lower yields were offset by a 9 percent increase in price per pound.
- Hay & Forage
Both alfalfa and other hay crops experienced slightly reduced production and a 7 percent decrease in prices. There was an 18 percent increase in other hay being shifted from on-farm use to sales, which resulted in a 10 percent increase in other hay sales to $51.3 million. Alfalfa hay sales were down slightly to $121.2 million.
- Field crops
Gross sales of potatoes, hops, vegetable and flower seeds and sugar beets were down in 2003 due to lower prices and reduced acreage for some crops. The one bright spot in this sector was peppermint grown for oil, which experienced increases in yields and prices, resulting in a 15 percent increase in estimated gross farm sales to $25.4 million.
- Christmas trees
Total harvest was 8.4 million trees, about 2 percent below the previous year. Combined with a slight price increase, gross farm sales were estimated to be $158 million, 1 percent below last year.
- Farm forest products (small woodlots)
Includes logs and firewood sold by farming enterprises. Production was down 11 percent in terms of board-feet harvested. With prices reported to be about even with last year, gross farm sales were $150.2 million, down about 11 percent.
- Other Specialty products
The overall specialty products sector includes major nursery and greenhouse crops. In addition there are a wide variety of other commodities that add up to a significant portion of Oregon's agricultural sales.
Included in these other commodities in 2003 were bulbs, $20.4 million gross farm sales; fee hunting and recreation, $6.3 million; turf sod, $4.8 million; and hybrid poplars, $3.3 million. Also included are many smaller production commodities like holly, herbs and floral crops that added up to $67.2 million in 2003 gross farm sales.
Gross farm sales were estimated to be up 17 percent to $543 million, due primarily to stronger prices.
Cow numbers were estimated to be up about 3 percent. A number of small dairies leaving the industry have been more than offset by a number of large, well-equipped dairies entering production. Slightly higher yield estimates have been mostly offset by slightly lower prices. Gross farm sales in 2003 were estimated to be $282 million, up about 4 percent from the previous year.
Despite a slight increase in prices, gross farm sales of chicken broilers were down 3 percent to $36.8 million. Contributing to the decline was a 5 percent drop in production due to a number of producers leaving the industry.
Chicken egg production was down about 2 percent resulting in estimated sales of $43 million.
- Other livestock
Includes horses and mules, sheep and lambs, and hogs and pigs. In 2003, gross farm sales of other livestock and related products increased 4.7 percent to an estimated $72.8 million. Prices for horses and mule and sheep and lambs were slightly higher in 2003. Gross sales of hogs and pigs were down slightly to $8.8 million.
The miscellaneous livestock category which includes such animals as llamas, alpacas, emus and ostriches increased in gross farm sales to an estimated $16.0 million, 5 percent higher than the previous year.