Wine grapes top crop in $1-billion county agriculture industry
–The San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures recently released a report of the 2018 production statistics for the local agricultural industry.
The overall value of agricultural production hit a milestone record of $1,035,499,000 in 2018. This represents an increase of 12-percent over the value reported in 2017. This figure represents only commodity gross values and does not reflect net profits received by local agricultural producers. Also, reported values do not include multipliers related to secondary economic benefits to the community.
The top ten commodities by value in 2018 were:
- Wine Grapes – all
- Cattle and Calves
- Vegetable Transplants
- Cut Flowers
- Head Lettuce
Despite an extended summer heat wave, wine grape producers enjoyed a good growing season with an 8-percent increase in production and a modest overall price increase of 3-percent. The total wine grape value hit a record high of $276 million.
Fresh and processed strawberry production skyrocketed due to increased acreage and the planting of higher yielding varieties. Prices plummeted early in the season due to an oversupply of strawberries following a statewide freeze that prevented growing regions from the typical phasing in of product. Despite this price drop, the overall strawberry value was up 18-percent to more than $268 million.
Vegetable acreage has rebounded to come back in line with historical levels. The rebound was attributed to increased rain over the last couple of years, a more stable labor market and favorable growing conditions for vegetable crops.
The animal category increased by 1-percent compared to 2017, valued at just over $48.5 million. The number of cattle and calves sold during 2018 increased by 4-percent to 44,900. Cattle prices dropped 5-percent averaging $131 per CWT. Since 2016, the cattle industry appears to have stabilized relative to the prolonged drought experienced in recent years.
The nursery industry is in a state of transition with indoor cannabis production beginning to replace nursery stock. Local greenhouse facilities are being leased or purchased for cannabis production, resulting in decreased indoor decorative and ornamental plant production during 2018. The cut flower market stabilized because of less competition from neighboring counties where some cut flower production areas have been converted to cannabis. Despite the conversion of some local growing area to cannabis, the nursery stock industry remained relatively stable with the overall value declining just 2-percent to $81.2 million.
“Local agricultural producers amplified their economic contributions to the local and statewide economies in 2018 with an increased overall value of agricultural commodities of $1,035,499,000, a milestone in San Luis Obispo County,” according to Martin Settevendemie, Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer.
Statistics for the local agricultural industry featured in the Department’s Annual Crop Reports for 1928 through 2017 can be viewed in the Crop Report Library.