Oregon ag production on an upswing

Farms and ranches produced $5.4 billion in goods last year.

The lucky ones, Steve Barkwell feeds some of his birds, including "Pavo" - his male Heritage turkey - and "Mrs. Pavo" - his female turkey - at Barkwell Farm on Wednesday morning, November 22, 2012 in Milton-Freewater, OR. Barkwell and his wife keep the two turkeys, 30 chickens and 3 ducks in a pen together on their farm. The turkey "figured out how to survive Thanksgiving by sitting on the eggs," Barkwell said, describing how the bird would sit on eggs from the hens until they were collected.

The lucky ones, Steve Barkwell feeds some of his birds, including "Pavo" - his male Heritage turkey - and "Mrs. Pavo" - his female turkey - at Barkwell Farm on Wednesday morning, November 22, 2012 in Milton-Freewater, OR. Barkwell and his wife keep the two turkeys, 30 chickens and 3 ducks in a pen together on their farm. The turkey "figured out how to survive Thanksgiving by sitting on the eggs," Barkwell said, describing how the bird would sit on eggs from the hens until they were collected. Photo by Matthew Zimmerman Banderas.

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After years of recession Oregon’s agricultural production appears to be on the rebound, state officials announced this week.

Newly revised figures show Oregon farms and ranches produced $5.4 billion in goods in 2012, a half-billion dollars more than reported in 2007. That figure also eclipsed 2011’s high water mark of $5.3 billion, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

The top 10

Oregon’s top-10 agricultural products for 2012:

1 — Greenhouse and nursery products, $745 million

2 — Cattle and calves, $653 million

3 — Hay, $638 million

4 — Milk, $497 million

5 — Wheat, $472 million

6 — Grass seed, $411 million

7 — Potatoes, $172 million

8 — Pears, $134 million

9 — Corn for grain and silage, $119 million

10 — Onions, $115 million

(Source: National Agriculture Statistics Service with assistance from Oregon State University)

The production statistics were released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service with assistance from Oregon State University, said Bruce Pokarney, ODA spokesman.

Greenhouse and nursery products retained the top ranking with $745 million in sales. That sector was up slightly from 2011 but remained 28 percent below its record high of $1 billion in 2007.

Cattle and calves regained second place with a strong showing in 2012, gaining 7 percent from the previous year. The commodity was ranked third both in 2011 and five years ago.

Hay, the third-place commodity, remains one of the leading crops in Oregon, but its value last year dropped 12 percent from 2011, Pokarney said in a release. However, compared to 2007’s production value, hay has increased 38 percent.

Remaining at number four, milk also saw a one-year drop of 6 percent in 2012, but remains 21 percent higher in production value than 2007’s number.

Higher prices for wheat allowed that commodity to reach the top-five ranking. Prices softened slightly in 2012, dropping the value 6 percent from 2011, Pokarney said. But sales were still 31 percent better than 2007, making wheat another commodity that is generally trending up.

Pokarney said that outside the top ten, only a handful of commodities have trended down over the past five years. These were Christmas tree production, apples, grass and grain straw, horses and mules, cranberries and strawberries.

Notable growth over the five-year stretch has been recorded for blueberries, wine grapes, cherries, mint and blackberries. Watermelons and sheep and lambs have increased considerably as well, but the percentage growth is a little misleading since their overall value is not quite as high as some of the others that are trending up, Pokarney said.

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