The U.S. Department of Agriculture's statistics service released their final numbers for 2013 last week, mostly confirming—with only a few minor changes—earlier projections for state agriculture statistics released earlier this year.
For New Mexico, the final annual report indicates farmland values rose across the state for both irrigated and non-irrigated farms; milk production remained extremely strong, and, like the remainder of the nation, cattle herds shrunk slightly by the end of 2013.
New Mexico Department of Agriculture officials say the NASS annual report indicates agriculture is "alive and well" in the Land of Enchantment in spite of a few natural roadblocks, specifically, a continuing drought and multiple years of excessive wildfires.
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Overall, New Mexico showed positive results for milk production with just over 8 million pounds of fresh milk produced. Milk per head of dairy cattle also ranked high with 24,944 pounds of milk per cow. Total value of milk production in New Mexico was $1,514,716,000.
Supporting the hefty level of dairy products in the state is New Mexico's high quality hay and haylage, specifically high quality alfalfa produced in southeast regions of the state and well known for its high nutrient value. An estimated 244,000 acres of hay were harvested last year, all but 99,000 in alfalfa. Total overall hay production was 4.16 tons per acre, with alfalfa averaging 5.5 tons/acre form 145,000 acres.
Top pecan producer
Pecans also did well. New Mexico beat out Georgia and Texas last year to a produce 72 million pounds of in-shell pecans valued at nearly $137 million. The state is poised to produce another healthy pecan crop this year in spite of a "down year" in the pecan production cycle. New Mexico State University pecan specialists estimate the state may produce 55 million to 60 million pounds of in-shell pecans this year.
While the state's Chile pepper crop dropped last year with an estimated 9,000 planted acres, the crop produced nearly $50 million in agriculture revenue. Industry experts say this year could be about the same and possibly a little better in spite of continued pressure from cheaper foreign producers and growing farm worker problems that have plagued the industry in recent years.
Dry onions help boost the state's agricultural economy. Over 2.6 million pounds were harvested on 6,200 acres with a value of nearly $41 million. Other productive crops include grain corn valued at about $38 million, cotton and cottonseed that added $34 million to the state's agriculture economy and winter wheat on 440,000 acres and accounted for just over $23 million in economic value. Other crops added to the state's economy included just over $10 million for grain sorghum, $8 million in peanuts and $11.6 million in dry beans.
Livestock holds top spot as the major contributor to New Mexico agricultural value along with poultry and related products. A total of 630,837 head of livestock moved to market and combined with poultry products produced a value of $1,933,204,000 for the year.
Other interesting agriculture statistics include the average age for farmers and ranchers in the state, just over 60 years. There were 19,994 male farmers and 4,777 female farmers in the state last year.
Ethnicity of agricultural producers breaks down as follows:
American Indian 7,439
African American 51
Agriculture officials across the state are hopeful a wet monsoon season in July and August and heavy rains in early September so far provide a promising sign that relief from the drought may be in sight and could bring a good year for agriculture in 2015. Rainfall amounts are up for most areas of the state with a few isolated areas reporting above average rainfall already this year.