News from the Utah Agricultural Statistics Service on Friday is a downer.
State statistician DelRoy J. Gneiting said Utah fruit production is down, Utah crop prospects are down and even the number of farms in Utah is down."Frost and cool, moist weather at the critical spring pollination time coupled with the cyclical nature of fruit production resulted in sharply lower tart cherry, apple and pear crops," Gneiting said.
Tart cherry production is estimated at 12 million pounds, 59 percent below the 1987 record high. Apple production is forecast at 42 million pounds, 38 percent below last year's record high, and pear production, forecast at 2,200 tons, is off 39 percent from last year.
"Utah's sweet cherry crop is estimated at 1,800 tons, matching last year's level, but sweet cherry growers in Utah have not had a good production year since 1984, when the crop totaled 4,200 tons. Apricot production is expected to be 1,200 tons, up 9 percent from 1987.
"As of Aug. 1, producers expect lower yields on wheat, barley, corn and dry beans. Oat yields are up, however, and hay yields are steady," Gneiting said.
Utah winter wheat production is forecast at 5.6 million bushels, down 23 percent from 1987. The average yield, at 37 bushels per acre, is down 6 bushels from last year's record high. Spring wheat production is down 22 percent, barley is down 15 percent, corn for grain is expected to be down 2 percent and dry beans are down 23 percent.
U.S. production, beset by record droughts, is worse. Across the nation, Gneiting said, spring wheat is down 53 percent, barley is down 45 percent, corn is down 37 percent and dry beans are down 20 percent.
Oat production in Utah is expected to be up 12 percent from last year, but U.S. oat production is down 45 percent. Utah's alfalfa hay is up 3 percent, but other kinds of hay in the state are down 18 percent. Nationally, alfalfa hay production is down 18 percent and other hay is down 6 percent.
Gneiting said a total of 13,300 farms were operating in Utah during 1988, a 2 percent drop from last year and the fourth consecutive year of decline.
Land in farms, at 11.3 million acres, is steady with last year after registering declines throughout the decade. Land in farms has dropped 700,000 acres since 1980. The average size of farms in Utah is currently estimated at 850 acres, up 19 acres from last year, Gneiting said.