Labor, shipping issues cloud 2021 harvest

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By Craig W. Anderson

Some crops are still being harvested in San Joaquin County, others are being processed and packing sheds are filling up with product. What to expect from the 2021 harvest will come from those who produced the county’s bounty.

Whether or not the 2021 crop will surpass 2020’s $3.1 billion of gross value won’t be known until 2022. Farm Bureau members are now awaiting results from the numerous harvests to learn how 2021 fared as the COVID-19 pandemic winds down.

As the 2021 agricultural year neared its finale, San Joaquin Farm Bureau News continued the tradition of providing a look back at 2021.

Tim Pelican, San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner, pointed out the challenges remaining for agriculture in the wake of the county’s recovery and resilience during 2020.

“So far in 2021 the stalled cargo ships situation has really affected most processors in getting product out of warehouses during this slowing of the production chain,” Pelican said.  “The cargo carrier log jam has caused the county’s ag to be even more nimble and innovative, considering we’re still working through a pandemic, drought, labor and other issues.”

The Port of Stockton can’t help lease the cargo vessel problem because, he said, “The Port doesn’t handle sea containers. It ships products like rice and other open-hold cargos.”

Pelican expects the county’s Top Ten crops to remain essentially the same although “a couple could change in the lower half of the list.”

“Overall, all crops were fairly positive and steady in 2021,” said SJFB President David Strecker, noting a positive carryover from 2020. “Prices were trending upward in a good way but input costs and oil prices are up.”

He added that good prices for the commodities “will help with the higher costs of operation.”

Strecker noted that many dairy farmers have planted permanent crops-almonds, walnuts-in place of feed such as silage corn to help bridge price fluctuations. This requires the purchase of silage corn and it being trucked to dairies which means another cost, hopefully offset by earnings from the permanent crops.”

Due to its popularity and reliable production, Strecker said he saw in 2021 a lot of fields being prepped for almonds and that diverse commodity plans were being implemented as “the way to go in today’s marketplace.”

He commented that the labor situation of “jobs exceeding the workers needed to fill them isn’t likely to change soon.”

“The brightest thing I see in the immediate future is the prospect of significant rain that’s definitely needed,” said SJFB Executive Director Bruce Blodgett.

On a broader scope, Blodgett said, “It’s been a tough year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected everything.”

He was curious about walnuts and almonds with good prices for growers. “I’m looking forward to how new crops like pistachios will provide potential for our growers.”

Blodgett said labor and fuel costs increased, as did all overhead costs and how unanticipated events such as dealing with a late, surprising 2020 November freeze that impacted the walnut crop and “really slammed some orchards.” He also said that reservoirs are “badly in need of refilling.”

Lack of labor created much concern in 2021 with unemployment payments being the primary reason as they allowed workers to remain comfortably unemployed which resulted in a surfeit of unfilled jobs in every agriculture sector.

“It’s the same story,” Blodgett said. “People come to work, stay long enough to qualify for unemployment, then quit to go back on unemployment. The jobs are there but the people won’t fill them.”

The congested ports in Southern California have lasted nearly an entire year and the reason the ships haven’t been unloaded is due to a lack of truck drivers, trucks, trailers, containers and longshoremen. The slowdown is preventing the delivery of materials agriculture needs such as parts, fertilizers, equipment and anything needed for production, harvest and transportation.

“The port crisis is a perfect storm of events ag must deal with,” said SJFB First Vice President Andrew Watkins. “Hopefully, we’ll get what’s really needed near the end of 2021: all harvests successfully completed and lots of rain.”

The congested ports have “hit agriculture across the board, affecting every aspect of it,” Blodgett said.

Rain at the right time would be helpful, said SJFB Second Vice President Joe Ferrari of Linden’s Ferrari Brothers. “A large rainstorm at any stage of any harvest can disrupt the supply chain. It becomes a chess game to get walnuts harvested, processed and out when a storm hits.” Which was happening as walnut harvest finished in 2021.

“Cargo ships clogging ports, labor issues and drought have all combined to make 2021 another challenging year for agriculture,” he said.

About the ongoing drought, Ferrari said, “The state needs to change its stance on water storage to help all farmers. Our Legislature seems to encourage farmer vs. farmer disputes regarding water issues.”

About how 2021’s going, Ferrari said, “We won’t know the value of our crops until the checks are in our hands.”

The county continued to help farm workers via the Housing for Harvest program pioneered by San Joaquin County in conjunction with the CDFA in 2020 to provide housing for COVID-positive farm workers along with child care and food and supplies donated by local charitable groups.

According to Pelican, programs established in 2020 continued in 2021 to help farm workers.

The 2021 Top Ten

2020’s Top Ten list included, in order: Almonds, Milk, Grapes, Walnuts, Cherries, Eggs/Poultry, Cattle and Calves, Tomatoes, Blueberries and Hay. These crops accounted for a gross commodity value of more than $2.4 billion, contributing to a total ag value of $3.1 billion when the Other Crops category is included.

Producers say it’s too early to say with certainty how 2021 has fared so approximations from the experts will have to do.


No. 1, 2020 value: $694 million

“We’ll have the final numbers in January,” said Dave Phippen, almond grower and partner in Travaille and Phippen, almond processors in Ripon. “I don’t think the numbers will be far off from 2020.”

“The volume of this year’s crop was impressive,” Phippen said. “A disappointment was that insect damage was a little higher this year across the board.”

Prices were “better than 2020 but we’re a long way from knowing the final price at this point.”

“A big challenge was and is shipping because a lot of the 2020 crop still remains to be shipped,” Phippen explained. “There are willing buyers for our crop but it’s uncertain if we can get it all shipped.”

Phippen sees a major issue in finding where the 2021 crop can be stored while both years are moving through a system where 600 million pounds of carryover awaits shipment. “Fortunately, almonds are very, very stable in storage.”

The Almond Board of California reported in October that crop receipts are inconsistent as usual. “Insect damage is up about 40% from November 2020” and the outlook statewide finds growers are “generally disappointed in their crops and increasingly concerned about water.” Many growers also felt the 2021 price increase was a relief from last year’s levels but given the lighter crop, increasing costs and drought concerns about 2022, many growers weren’t excited about crop sales.

This makes for an angst about almonds the industry hasn’t felt for nearly a decade. The board also noted that buyers have been somewhat patient, handlers generally have needed to continue selling to free up bins and warehouse space and “where the market goes from here depends a lot on the amount of buying that needs to take place short-term.”

Despite the Almond Board’s less-than-effusive analysis of the 2021 almond outlook, Watkins called this year’s crop “good” and “another demonstration of our diversity.”

Phil Brumley, almond and walnut grower and ag consultant, was not cowed by the board’s analysis. He said, “The almond market is a little better than 2020 but there are shipping issues driven by labor not having replacement workers available at the ports, a scarcity of truck drivers – the number of qualified drivers is dropping all the time – and it’s hard to find drivers in the early summer. There are also difficulties in drivers being able to pass drug tests.”

The 2021 almond crop appears to be a good one with some significant challenges to be overcome. Based on past years performance, the almond industry will find 2021 to be another good year.


Milk and dairy products

No. 2, 2020 value: $439.8 million

Jack Hamm, Lodi dairy farmer said of 2021, “Dairy’s been a lot more stable; we’ve not had the price fluctuations of 2020, the pandemic year. Prices aren’t that bad but inflation’s affected parts, inputs, refrigeration components making them more difficult to get and more expensive.”

Lodi dairy farmer Hank Van Exel said the dairy industry is “very concerned about fertilizer for 2022, where we can get it and what will it cost” and that “equipment for dealing with cows, equipment and parts we need are having delivery problems because of the port jam-up. I’ve got two tractors parked due to a lack of parts.”

Hamm said the “pretty warm summer” affected cows adversely when the animals didn’t have cow comfort systems in place. Another aspect dairy farmers faced, he said, was increased costs for feed driven by inflation and drought. “Forage is a real issue in California and inputs are the main costs for us now.”

Van Exel explained that “because we have sufficient water, forages and hay are more reasonably priced.” However, he noted that circumstances of drought, low milk prices to producers, rising input costs and labor issues have pushed dairies out of business over time. “We’ve lost 13 dairies since 1995 around me, my sister and Jack Hamm, five near me. It’s an issue.”

Also an ongoing issue for the county’s dairy industry is labor. “It’s a big issue,” Van Exel said. “People work here two or three days, then quit and go back on unemployment which has a better payday than they could make on a job. But I’m starting to see a change with guys coming here from down south who want to work.”

The drought’s dry spring was “great for breeding,” Hamm said, adding that new cows could feast on rolled corn that now costs from $180 to $270 per ton, soybeans with prices 30% to 50% more than last year and silage is up $15 to $20 per ton over 2020’s cost.

The good news is that producers are receiving $17 to $18 per 100 weight for their milk.

Van Exel is also looking forward to a good rain because “the ground can take some water.”

San Joaquin County’s dairy farmers have also been growing triticale for their cows. The hybrid of wheat and rye has low-temperature tolerance, the vigor of rye and agronomic properties similar to wheat. The feed is currently the focus of studies at the Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake in Siskiyou County where test plots have shown promising results.

Those results are already known to Hamm who said, “I’ve been planting triticale for five years and it’s really good during wet and dry years. A lot of dairymen are growing it now.”

He said choices are being made by dairy farmers whether to continue planting feed for their cows or converting to trees due to the potential regular income orchards can provide. “Do you want to put your water into alfalfa or trees? That’s the question many dairy operators are considering.”

“2021 was another year in dairy,” Hamm said. “No Big Government action and we’re living with the drought.”


No. 3, 2020 value: $341 million

The drought and labor continue to have a major impact on winegrapes. The USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service estimated that California would produce 3.6 million tons of winegrapes in 2020 and that the 2021 yield is anticipated to be less.

“This year has been very challenging, mostly on labor compliance which was ever-changing and on supply management fronts,” said Aaron Lange, vice president, vineyard operations for Lange Twins Family Winery and Vineyards. “The drought has also contributed to a lighter crop, especially in the reds.”

He added that hot weather ripened the grapes much faster which compressed the season, with 10 weeks of harvest wanting to squeeze into seven weeks of picking. This caused area wineries to struggle with capacity as they weren’t fast enough to keep up with harvest.

Stuart Spencer, winegrape grower and executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission explained that the drought encouraged a “long-range view among growers with one assured element: the lack of water will be there.”

Spencer explained that the Lodi area has available water with “access for the most part, which allowed growers to irrigate. Winter rains will do a lot for vineyards.”

The ongoing drought makes it difficult to plan ahead but a root stock task force is looking into learning more about drought resistant root stocks to aid in that planning.

Dry farming can be used but it needs to be implemented from the beginning of the vineyard, Spencer said. “It can’t be changed in midstream; that’s its primary drawback.”

The current drought is the most recent of the water-challenged years: ranging from 1976 through 2016 to today. Blodgett pointed out that “a lot of grapes have been pulled over the past few years and there’s no guarantee grapes will be planted again.”

Blodgett said the current labor situation “makes it clear that we need a guest worker program. But the federal government is not moving toward a solution. So worker shortages continue with cherries, grapes and other fruits and produce.”


No. 4, 2020 Value: $221.9 million

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service issued its 2021 forecast for California’s walnut production to disappointed growers in September: the crop was estimated to be 670,000 tons, down 15% from 2020’s record 785,000 tons.

The forecast is based on 385,000 bearing acres statewide. San Joaquin County has 75,100 walnut bearing acres, down from the previous year’s 77,300. The 2020 crop registered 2.08 tons per acre compared to the previous year’s 1.95; the 2020 crop totaled 156,000 tons – compared to 151,000 but the value per unit ($1420 in 2020 vs. $1,930) – proved to be the difference between 2020’s $221.9 million and the $290.4 million of the previous year.

What happened? Mother Nature stepped in with a wide-ranging freeze in the late fall of 2020 that caused frost damage to walnut orchards statewide.

“This year should be better than 2020 and Chandlers are still being harvested,” said grower Phil Brumley. “The rain we’re having should help the crop open up.” According to NASS, chilling hours were up, which was good news.

The late freeze in 2020 caused frost damage that delayed leaf out and reduced nut set. As if that wasn’t enough, Brumley said, “The ongoing drought conditions hit orchards with a higher level of freeze injury.” The statewide drought coupled with low water availability had agriculture in general in a drought emergency.

Watkins said the 2021 walnut quality is good “but what prices we’ll see remains to be seen.” He added that rain is needed but “walnuts are still being harvested so we’ll have to see what effect that may have.”

The USDA survey indicated an average nut set per tree down 17%.

“We expect prices to rebound a little but to what extent it’s still too early to tell,” Pelican said. “The numbers will be available in December and January.”


No. 5, 2020 value: $186.5 million

The final word on the 2021 cherry crop won’t be in until year’s end and then the agricultural community will know the outcome of a star crossed crop that began with a NASS estimate of 9.47 million 18-pound boxes. The record crop occurred in 2017 when a record 9.55 million boxes were harvested.

However, growers say that heat and wind damage early in the season probably reduced the fruit size and packouts.

Joe Ferrari said, “Our Bings were horrible and labor was expensive although rather readily available.” He also said the supply chain situation is a signal that something’s wrong. Shipping and on-time delivery are vital in the cherry world and anything that slows the process of getting fruit to customer is bad news.

In San Joaquin County cherries are a perennial Top Ten crop occupant and in 2020 the 19,900 acres planted to them generated 56,900 tons per acre with a value of $3,280 per ton, a significant increase over the previous year of $1,180 per ton and the increase was obvious in a near million dollar increase in total value.

When the final count arrives, if it hits the 8 million box mark that “would be up from the 6.58 million boxes packed last year, and higher than the previous two years,” said Chris Zanobini, executive director of the California Cherry Board. With peak harvest throughout June and the final harvest ending in August the cherry world will know whether or not that box mark was reached.

A lack of winter chilling has reduced the supply of marketable cherries due to poor fruit set and late-spring rains, which caused cherry split. This year, for most of the cherry growing season, the weather has been perfect, say growers.

Regardless of the crop’s yield or quality-both of which were expected to be good-a crash in market prices wasn’t worrisome because, noted Zanobini, the crop’s “exceptional quality” was expected to drive repeat purchasing.

“Prices trended upward and the concern for cherry logistics, how the crop would be moved into the market for it, those challenges were effectively met,” Strecker said. “How things will work out over the next year we’ll see.”

Eggs, chickens, all

No. 6, 2020 value: $181.7 million

A possible surprise to those interested in the Top Ten crops has been eggs and poultry cracking the Top Ten of 2020 for the second consecutive year. But will the duo return for the 2021 ranking?

The 2020 numbers reflected a solid increase from the previous year’s number: $160.3 million, a mark that Ferrari found somewhat startling.

“Eggs surprised me but, again, their success marks the diversification of our county,” he said.

San Joaquin County’s egg/poultry success reflects that of the state’s poultry industry that has sales exceeding $2.5 billion annually and employs more than 25,000 workers. Chickens rank twelfth among California’s top 20 commodities with a farmgate value of $630 million, according to the CDFA.

San Joaquin County’s egg and poultry producers generated 60.6 million units [a dozen poultry per unit] to reach the Top Ten.

Cattle & Calves

No. 7,  2020 value: $109.4 million

The county had 128,000 head of cattle in 2020 and about the same in 2021, their live weight more than 1 million pounds and the 2020 cattle sold for $107 per CWT; overall, cattle & calves value increased by about $700,000 and was the major contributor to the Livestock and Poultry category among county commodities.

“Every farmer and rancher just kept on going,” said Diana Connolly, a cattle rancher near Tracy. “What else could we do except keep doing what we do, pandemic or not?”

She said input costs have increased such as hay and fuel is a big cost item as well, two that can’t be ignored because, Connolly said, “You can’t do business without both of them.”

Kenny Watkins, Linden diversified farmer and cattle rancher, explained that “getting supplies and parts was challenging which caused our day-to-day operations to slow down.”

He said the closure of packing plants forced ranchers to downsize due to “the returns not being viable in supplanting our feed needs.” This is caused by five packers that control 85% of the cattle business nationwide, he said.

Connolly noted that low prices for cattle were challenging but that she’s been able to “get everything I needed for vaccinating when we brand. So far, no problems with that important job.”


No. 8, 2020 value: $61.5 million

For the tomato growers in the county, both fresh and processing, the decline from 2019’s $88.4 million was precipitous and caused concern.

“Water’s the big issue for tomatoes,” said Paul Sanguinetti, diversified grower in the Stockton area. “A lot of acreage wasn’t planted due to the water situation. What is done regarding water and storage will determine the future of tomatoes here.”

The key to successful tomatoes in San Joaquin County is water and weather according to Sanguinetti. “Sure, we have our challenges but our situation’s better than growers in the southern part of the valley in the Fresno region.”

Water in the county is saved for permanent crops, noted Sanguinetti, which means smaller tomato crops. “But smaller crops are ok to canneries. No one has to wait for trucks.”

Truck drivers and trucks are in big demand but the availability of both is low, a disparity that needs to be corrected for the tomato industry to regain full production. “We’ll see more acres planted to tomatoes in the future due to our water supply,” Sanguinetti said. “As for this year, I see it as being moderately positive.”


No. 9, Value in 2020: $59.2 million

Blueberries are a relatively new addition to the Top Ten and a large planting is on Victoria Island grown by Victoria Island Farms and Jack Zech represents the island’s businesses that he and his mother own and operate.

“We’ve taken out some acreage of blueberries because the varieties didn’t match our processors,” Zech said, adding, “Costs have increased 40% while revenues had grown by 7%.”

Zech said, “We did OK in 2021 but our yields were down due to a combination of wind at peak growing season followed by a heat wave that fried the fruit.”

Despite all this, blueberry prices were acceptable but, he said, without the upward bump their other crops received.

Blueberry production statewide has increased over the last 10 years from 20 million pounds annual to nearly 72 million pounds, according to the California Blueberry Commission. Organic blueberries are also experiencing overall industry growth.

Can blueberry popularity be equal to the labor intensive effort needed to grow and harvest it? Two or three harvests are usually required and many growers are combining mechanized harvesting with hand picking.

Zech said the fruit requires year-round attention and hand-picking must continue because the berries grow only from the pruned site.

A variety of pests enjoy noshing on blueberries, among them the pacific flathead borer, the spotted wing drosophila and mold, all of which are treated with well-researched materials.

Victoria Island Farms isn’t a one-crop operation; in addition to blueberries other crops include almonds, tomatoes, corn, wheat, island alfalfa and barley.


No.10, Value in 2020: $57.2 million

“2021 was a really good year for tonnage and hay testing as high test,” said Rick Staas, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Hay Growers Association. “Prices were up $50 to $60 per ton over last year.”

However, feed supplies were extremely tight for locally grown feed and because it’s difficult to bring hay into California. This could become a serious problem as long as the drought continues, he said, due to “our acreage being lost to other permanent crops like almonds. Feed growers are suffering drastic losses to trees.”

Corn silage prices are driven up because dairy farmers are taking forage crops out of production and replacing them with permanent crops.

“I hate to say this but the forage industry will continue to decline,” Staas said. “California’s had a precipitous decline in forage acreage over the past few years.”

“So far in 2021, yields have been good and have tested higher than normal,” Staas said. “It’s been a good, extended season.”

Other crops

This is a category that deserves more attention because, ignored though they might be, these dozens of “other crops” contributed more than $504 million to the county’s $3.1 billion 2020 crop value and this solid contributor always makes a difference.

Melons, potatoes, carrots, garlic, pumpkins, onions, beans, silage corn, apiary, nursery products, livestock and poultry products and even manure are some of the others that helped create the county’s $3.1 billion ag value juggernaut.

Diversity in crop harvests is a good thing, according to Andrew Watkins. “For example, yellow onions are harvested at a different time than red onions which provides a diverse harvest. Winter squash has a longer shelf life than other varieties so it can ride the rails to markets and can go by trucks.”

Peaches (all): 2020 value: $11.4 million

“Other” grower Frank Bavaro grows Top Ten members walnuts, almonds, cherries along with chestnuts and peaches.

“The peaches go primarily to Del Monte,” Bavaro said. “Fresh market? Not so much. Either way, this has been one of the smoothest seasons I’ve been in with peaches.” Tonnage was down, acreage planted to peaches was down and yield per acre was down but prices were up.

He pointed out that the labor is there for a good crop as workers find out through the grapevine whose crops are good and they go there to work.

The price per ton was $500, the highest on record, said Bavaro. “The key to peach success is to have varieties available processors want, a consistency in quality, sizing, all the pieces of the peach puzzle coming together.”

“Trump had us at number one, so I planted and doubled my peach acreage and got the good word from Del Monte,” Bavaro said. “The two most consistent varieties were Ross and Late Ross.”

He said labor was an issue, labor contractors had a tough time and “there weren’t enough guys for me to use my mechanical harvester. A lot of guys were no shows.”

Onions: 2020 value: $12 million

Another “other” is Greg Busalacchi who grows hay, wheat for seed and onions. He said, “The onions grew nicely despite a bout with black mold early in the year.”

The market was poor due to no exports because of the continuing container ship logjam in California ports and, he said, “My hay did better than the onions.”

Domestic prices were down and labor was short in 2021. “The labor shortage affected the mold because there weren’t sufficient workers to get the onions harvested on time which allowed the mold to come in,” he said.

Then he said heat waves arrived that encouraged the mold but material applied to fight the pest “didn’t have that much of an effect when used with onions.”

Melons: 2020 value: $39.4 million

Pumpkins are ready to go; it’s Halloween, after all and Art Perry, of George Perry and Sons, Manteca, said, “The Big Push was on to get our pumpkins out of the fields and into warehouses. Rain is definitely a concern at this time of year.”

Bryan Van Groningen of Van Groningen & Sons, Inc. said overall 2021 “went well and we hustled like crazy to get the pumpkin crop in before the rain arrived. Fortunately, 99% of our pumpkin harvest was already completed.”

He said the pumpkin season began early with excellent demand, “on the ornamental side, especially for the mini-pumpkins.” He commented that the last two weeks of October had experienced the expected “push for the usual carving pumpkins.”

Perry called the crop “a great one from our growers” and everyone’s challenged by the cost of bins and pallets constructed of expensive wood, transportation and other increased costs.

Van Groningen said pumpkin prices were stable “but each year input costs have gone up; labor, cardboard, freight-a very big cost-and wood pallets, another costly item due to wood costs.”

On the positive side, the cargo ship crush at California ports hasn’t affected Van Groningen that much but “logistics, overtime, minimum wage have had their effect.”

A large storm predicted to hit the Manteca area had Perry concerned about how pumpkins left in the fields would fare if a storm delivered too much water at once.

“I’m an optimistic guy,” Art Perry said, “I have a lot of great friends in this industry across the country. And I still have confidence in everyday Americans who don’t quit and will figure out what needs to be done.”

Those Americans helped increase demand, Van Groningen said, because “now, people are getting out and they’re shopping for watermelons.”

Van Groningen also extolled the virtues of pumpkins as feed. “Pumpkins are good high protein additives for dog, cat, horse and cattle feeds.”

George Perry and Sons raises and sells primarily seedless watermelons, mini-seedless watermelons and pumpkins.

Both companies have been in business long enough not to panic during drought or rainstorms and the future appears bright for their businesses.

Other “other” crops

Potatoes and silage corn had 2020 values of $84 million and $80,2 million, respectively; other silage-$34.4 million; apiary, $48.7 million, includes pollination, bees, Queens, nucleus, colonies and beeswax and honey; nursery products, $132.3 million, includes grapevines, strawberry plants, fruit and nut trees, vegetable plants, flowering potted plants and woody ornamentals.

Organic otherness

Ferrari Farms of Linden has been a certified organic operation for 40 years and has sold products via farmers markets for nearly as long.

According to the USDA, “Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that has had no prohibited substances applied three years prior to harvesting.”

Organic production encompasses vegetables, fruits, livestock, citrus, nuts and the ubiquitous “other.” County organics produced a variety of crops valued at more than $12 million in 2021, following 2019’s $13 million.

“2021 was like any other year,” Jeff Ferrari said. He is part of the Ferrari five: himself, brother Greg, sister Gina, dad Wayne and mom Irene. “The cherry crop was good but the apples weren’t because of a downward trend that’s now lasted a few years.”

The Ferrari walnuts were harvested just before the storm arrived. “The early varieties fared well and weren’t hurt by the rain that came after cherry harvest. Chandlers were hit hard by the winter kill and also affected by the drought.” Ultimately, walnuts were good, both organic and regular.

“Peaches are part of a group that includes cherries, apples, walnuts, nectarines, apricots, apriums, plums, pluots and persimmons,” Ferrari said.

This diverse assemblage is awaiting the arrival of “some almonds that are coming up.” Apples and other organic commodities suffered when prices rose and “Customers turned to cheaper imports,” he said.

The company exports produce to Canada, Japan, Thailand and Taiwan; an a significant portion of their commodities are sold domestically in stores and farmers markets in Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, San Francisco and Lodi.

Throughout its history Ferrari Farms has been a diversified operation, able to resist the limiting effects of variety of challenges.

“We manage to get it done,” Ferrari said. “We work hard to do best by our customers. After all, it’s our name on the product.”

Many of the “other crops” boasted increased value in 2020 during a pandemic year and it is expected the final 2021 tally will reveal them to have done the same.