CROP REPORT: COUNTY'S AGRICULTURE VALUE JUST UNDER $1.82 BILLION

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

 

Source: County News Service

October 8, 2015 (San Diego)--Agriculture continues to be an economic heavyweight in San Diego County, totaling nearly $1.82 billion in value. Trendy crops — like grapes for the region’s budding wine industry — continue to rise. Specialty crops like cacti and succulents have blossomed in spite of, or maybe even because of, the ongoing drought.

At the same time, the total value of San Diego county’s agricultural production decreased for the first time since 2009 — from $1.85 billion to just under $1.82 billion — and just the third time since 1996. And the total number of acres in production dropped by 12.1 percent, the largest decrease in 18 years.

Those are just a few of the statistical stories found in the annual Crop Report released this week by the San Diego County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures.

The report, which covers 2014, is a yearly snapshot of an industry that has been squeezed over the years by freezes, fires, pests, diseases and most recently, a historic drought, but also one that has not only survived, but generally continued to grow.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Horn, who also grows avocados and citrus on his Valley Center ranch, said the Board has consistently recognized the importance of agriculture in the county and moved to boost it.

“A thriving agricultural economy means a thriving San Diego county,” Horn said. “That’s why we’ve created our boutique winery ordinance, approved new rules to boost beekeeping, adopted an agricultural easement program to preserve ag space, and directed our staff to build a program that will promote agriculture and streamline regulations for things like cheese-making, agri-tourism and onsite horticultural sales.”

Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, said there was even a bright side to the 1.77 percent decrease in total agricultural value, coming after four straight years of increase.

“The slight drop in production value comes as no surprise in light of the challenges faced by farmers from the drought and the rising cost of water,” Larson said. “In fact, the change is small enough to be seen as a testament to the resolve of farmers to overcome the water issues.”

San Diego County Agricultural Commissioner Ha Dang said that resolve blended well with the County Board of Supervisors’ commitment to agriculture both as an industry and a way of life.

“Our growers continue to find effective ways to address challenges like the drought and invasive pests,” Dang said. “And the Board of Supervisors continues to support them, promoting and encouraging agriculture. That combined effort contributes to the sustainability of San Diego County’s thriving agricultural community and environment.”

The Crop Report, which can be seen online, stated that each of the top three crops — ornamental trees and shrubs; indoor flowering and foliage plants; and bedding plants, color and herbaceous perennials — increased in value in 2014.

The fourth most valuable crop, avocados, which has been greatly affected by drought and water prices, dropped 22 percent in value.

Wine grape values, which in 2012 saw a huge boost in interest and a 512 percent increase in value, increased by a modest .88 percent in 2014 to roughly $6.6 million. However, acres in production jumped 9.6 percent to 923 acres — capping a 121 percent increase in acreage since 2011.

Cacti and succulents, meanwhile, jumped 64 percent in value, from roughly $26.5 million in 2013 to $43.4 million in 2014.

Among other highlights from the report:

  • San Diego County continues to have more farms than any other county in the nation with 5,732
  • Nearly 19 percent of those farms are run by women
  • San Diego County has the 20th largest agricultural economy in the U.S.
  • Strawberries posted the biggest percentage increase in value from 2013, 16.2 percent

Here’s a list of the Top Ten Crops in the 2014 Crop Report: 

2014 Crop  

 Total Value  

 Ornamental Trees & Shrubs  

$439,178,551

 Indoor Flowering & Foliage Plants  

$363,702,937

 Bedding Plants, Color & Herbaceous Perennials  

$228,466,067

 Avocados  

$154,038,303

 Tomatoes  

$81,878,400

 Lemons  

$76,660,469

 Eggs, Chicken Market  

$45,244,848

 Cacti & Succulents  

$43,400,000

 Other Cut Flower Products & Bulbs  

$43,320,222

 Strawberries  

$37,950,000

For more information, go to the Agriculture, Weights and Measures’ Crop Statistics Web page