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Klamath County posts profitable year  

February 16, 2005


Higher prices for alfalfa and beef cattle helped Klamath County become the eighth-leading agricultural producer among Oregon's 36 counties last year, up a notch from the previous year, a report shows.

Klamath County posted ag sales of $182 million in 2004, according to a report issued this month by the Oregon State University Extension Service. Klamath County gained 9 percent in agricultural sales overall from 2003.

Klamath County's biggest agricultural contributor in 2004 was the cattle industry with sales of $69.9 million, an increase of 7 percent from 2003. Higher prices for cattle brought an additional $4.2 million to Klamath County in 2004, even with a reduction of 2,000 head from 2003.

Even during a time of high beef prices an unclear outlook for the water year is driving cattle operators' decisions.

"Last year was a banner year for us," said Jim Chapman, a Poe Valley rancher. "Probably the highest prices we've ever seen."

Chapman, who raises 350 cows in the Poe Valley area, anticipates that he'll keep his herd at the same level unless water deliveries to irrigators are curtailed.

"Water is the thousand-dollar question. If there's no water there will be some herd liquidation. If we've got water, this year we'd probably stay the same because of the uncertainty on the water situation."

In the dairy industry, herds increased by 150 cows last year while producers saw raw milk prices go up by $2 per hundredweight, to $14.50. An overall gain of $3 million was seen from dairy sales in the county.

Alfalfa production saw the biggest dollar gain with an increase of $7 million for a total of $33 million of alfalfa sold. Prices for alfalfa increased $20 per ton, to $120, while yields increased by .3 of a ton per acre.

Also in the report:

n Barley prices went up by 30 cents per bushel, to $3, bringing a 30 percent increase in sales. Barley acreage was reduced from 27,000 acres in 2003 to 25,000 acres last year, while yields increased by 25 bushels per acre, to an average of 120.

n Wheat prices stayed the same at $4 per bushel. Acreage increased by 1,000 acres, to 6,000 acres, and yields increased by 25 bushels per acre, to an average of 125 bushels.

n Potato prices plunged by $1.25 per cwt., to $3.50, while acreage decreased from 6,500 acres in 2003 to 6,000 last year. Crop yield increased by 60 cwt. per acre, to 510 sacks per acre.

n Peppermint prices and yields stayed the same while land planted in peppermint increased by 100 acres, to 500 acres.





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