Kings County home builders have taken out permits for 259 new single-family homes so through Sept. 1. That compares to 199 permits for the same period last year, according to Construction Monitor. That is around a 30 percent increase year-over-year. Value of the single-family home permits are also up - to $59 million from $43 million.

The value of all commercial projects in the county over the same period has also climbed in 2016. So far this year, commercial building projects are valued at $71 million compared to $22.6 million through the first 8 months of 2015.

Home builders permit valuation ranked by top five are Lannar with 44 units, San Joaquin Valley Homes with 57 permits, Woodside Homes with 23, Blue Mountain Construction with 16 homes and Wathen Castanos with 25. Most of the new homes are being built in Hanford.

Record walnut production expected

USDA says the 2016 California walnut production is forecast at 670,000 tons, up 11 percent from 2015's production of 603,000 tons. Falling walnut prices dropped Kings County’s walnut valuation from $94 million in 2014 to $55.4 million in 2015 although production per-acre was up. In 2016 walnut prices to date - have not improved much.

The 2016 walnut season began well with adequate chilling hours and a fair amount of winter rains. Weather during bloom was considered average, with some ideal days and some days of stronger winds and wet weather. Spring rain increased the threat of blight. Hot weather in August resulted in an earlier than usual start to harvest, which is expected to begin soon.

Tulare & Kings - Still the land of milk and honey?

Tulare County is likely to remain in the top spot for ag production in the US with release of 2015 Crop Report last week, but it, like neighbor Kings County, may no longer be the fabled land of milk and honey.

Milk receipts were down by one-third in 2015 based on some loss in production but mostly on the low price of milk. Likewise in Kings County the No. 1 crop - milk - fell from $967 million to $644 million although production was down only fractionally.

Honey production in 2016 has fallen by half in both Tulare and in Kings County. 

To spur bee numbers, UC advisers are encouraging farmers to plant strips of wildflowers along the edges of farm fields to benefit bees and the crops they pollinate like almonds. The strips of flowers provide nectar and habitat for native bees and other pollinators.

Lemoore natives to open third brew house 

Lemoore natives Kevin Nickell and Jason Carvalho, co-owners of BarrelHouse Brewing in Paso Robles and SLO are now planning a third location in Visalia. The partners will open around the 1st of the year at 521 East Main in Visalia with a 6000 square-foot tap room and 6000 foot beer garden in the back says Carvalho.

"People told told us we should open in Santa Barbara or Ventura next but we thought we would return to back from where we came from.” All Barrel House brewing is done in Paso Robles. Launched in 2013, their focus is on unique, drinkable beers with a constant flow of small batch projects.

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John Lindt is an independent business reporter. He can be reached at Sierra2thesea@gmail.com 

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