San Diego County Agricultural Industry Thrives
Despite the challenges from California’s ongoing drought, San Diego County’s agriculture industry continues to thrive.
The value of the region's agriculture industry last year was $1.85 billion, up 6 percent from 2012, according to an annual crop report released Wednesday by San Diego County officials.
“In a recovering economy, this is a testimony of the determination and resourcefulness of our local growers," said Ha Dang, the county’s agricultural commissioner.
Dang said it was also a testament to the farmers that they showed this growth during a prolonged drought.
Here are some stats about San Diego County’s agricultural industry from the 2013 crop report:
• 305,573 acres: Amount of land covered in the county by agriculture.
• 5,732: Number of farms in the county, more than any other county in the United States.
• 4 acres: The median size farm in the county.
• 40: The number of crops that are valued in excess of $1 million each.
She released the report at the Armstrong Garden Centers in El Cajon, which made sense because for the fifth year in a row the most valuable crop was ornamental trees and shrubs. Both are plentiful at the commercial nursery.
The crop accounted for $424.9 million, or 23 percent of the county's agricultural production, according to the report. Total revenue for ornamental trees and shrubs was well above the $387 million of the year before.
Measured on a per-acre basis, however, indoor flower and foliage plants was king, with a value of $457,000 an acre and overall income of $329.5 million, according to the report.
Among other leading crops, measured in total sales across major categories, were fruit and nuts, up 23 percent to $415.6 million; vegetables and vine products, down 9 percent to $170.7 million; and livestock and poultry, up 10 percent to $84.7 million.
The fruit and nut category received a major boost from avocados, which shot up 25 percent in value to $198 million following a poor yield in 2012.
Other more specific crops covered in the report were bedding plants, valued at $203.7 million; tomatoes, $92.7 million; lemons, $80 million; eggs, $76.3 million, miscellaneous berries, $34.3 million; herbaceous perennials, $26.7 million; and cacti and succulents, $26.5 million.
More than 305,000 acres in San Diego County are devoted to agriculture, spread across more than 5,700 farms — the most of any county in the U.S., according to the report.
While the numbers are impressive, the county hopes to give the agricultural industry a boost by relaxing regulations that go into the beer-making business so the craft beer boom can spread to the rural backcountry, said county Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “And then we’ll have the beer industry be able to open up tasting rooms and do retail sales in agricultural areas in our county,” she said.