The goal of our Perspective pages is to educate, inform, persuade and entertain. Today, we are blending the first and last of these with a quiz page highlighting our No. 1 industry -- agriculture.
Instructions: The bulk of the page features photos of farm equipment used in our region. Farmers will recognize most if not all of them, but our goal is to help nonfarm people.
So identify each piece of equipment and then give your best guess as to what it would cost to buy it new. Each item is numbered. The answers appear below the rule at the bottom of this article.
We also provide alphabetical lists of the top commodities grown in Merced and Madera counties last year, and of the thirstiest local crops. Your challenge is to rank them in order of the highest value or the greatest water usage. Again, the answers are below.
We hope you have a little fun with this -- and maybe learn something about farming.
And we thank Garton Tractor in Turlock, San Joaquin Equipment in Modesto and Flory Industries in Salida for providing photos and information for our farm equipment challenge.
The top commodities were gleaned from the respective counties' Department of Agriculture's annual crop reports.
ANSWERS TO FARM EQUIPMENT QUIZ:
All prices are for new equipment unless otherwise specified.
1. John Deere row crop tractor, used for tomatoes and other field crops, not for orchards and vineyards. $78,000 used.
2. New Holland FR series forage harvester. Can process up to 300 tons of silage corn per hour. $550,000.
3. Flory self-propelled brush shredder. Nut growers used to burn their orchard prunings; because of air pollution, they can no longer do that. This unit shreds prunings instead. Price: $334,000.
4. John Deere cotton harvester. $820,000.
5. Flory nut harvester, which picks up nuts that sweepers have put into windrows. $123,000.
6. Oxbo Grape Harvester fits over a row of grape vines, with bow rods that shake the canopy and the trunk without damaging the fruit. This is self-propelled (meaning the operator rides the equipment instead of towing it with a tractor). $270,000-plus.
7. New Holland orchard tractor with cab that has both heating and air conditioning. This low-profile tractor is also used at poultry farms. $62,000.
8. John Deere windrower, used in harvesting alfalfa, oats and winter forage. Cuts crops and puts them in a windrow. $149,500.
9. Flory Model V60 sweeper. This self-propelled implement sweeps a tree row of nuts into a windrow with a single pass, reducing dust and fuel consumption. $130,000.
10. Turkey loader moves turkeys to coops, which are then transported to processing plants. $45,000.
MERCED COUNTY TOP CROPS
1. Milk $1.1 billion
2. Almonds $397 million
3. Cattle and calves $291 million
4. Chickens $286 million
5. Sweet potatoes $159 million
6. Hay (alfalfa) 124 million
7. Silage (corn) $107 million
8. Cotton $99 million
9. Tomatoes $89 million
10. Eggs $85 million
Source: Merced County 2011 Crop Report
MADERA COUNTY TOP CROPS
1. Almonds $414 million
2. Milk $327 million
3. Grapes $301 million
4. Pistachios $113 million
5. Cattle and calves $45 million
6. Replacement heifers $40 million
7. Alfalfa hay and silage $39 million
8. Corn, grain and silage $29 million
9. Pollination $28 million
10. Poultry $22 million
Source: Madera County 2011 Crop Report
Which plants use the most water per acre:
6. Processing tomatoes
7. Dry beans
8. Fresh tomatoes
Source: Center for Irrigation Technology, November 2011 report
(citing 2005 figures)