Farmers Market in a Park
Farmers Market in a Park

2017 Annual Crop Statistics Released

Author: Martin Settevendemie, County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer
Date: 7/10/2018 3:00 PM

San Luis Obispo County 2017 Crop Statistics Released: $924,698,000 Overall Gross Value Reported, less than a 1% decrease over 2016.

The San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures announces the release of the 2017 production statistics for the local agricultural industry. Statistics can be found on the Department’s website in Forms & Documents/Information/News Releases/2017 Crop Statistics or in our 2017 Crop Report.

The total gross crop value for 2017 is $924,698,000. The overall value of agricultural production in 2017 decreased by 1% compared to 2016. “The much-needed rains during 2017 helped in the overall drought recovery but presented challenges for some of the ag producers in managing wet field conditions and planting and harvesting schedules”, according to Martin Settevendemie, County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer. Settevendemie cautioned the statistics only represent commodity gross values and do not reflect net profits received by producers. Also, reported values do not include multipliers related to secondary economic benefits to the community.

The top ten commodities ranked by value for 2017 were:
1. Wine Grapes
2. Strawberries
3. Cattle and Calves
4. Broccoli
5. Vegetable Transplants
6. Avocados
7. Cut Flowers
8. Cauliflower
9. Head Lettuce
10. Lemons

Winter rains along with a moderate growing season resulted in a 5% increase in grape production. The harvest season was challenging with huge temperature fluctuations that resulted in sporadic ripening patterns. Regardless, high quality and strong prices for most varietals increased wine grape values by 10% over 2016, breaking records for a second consecutive year with over $267 million in total value.

Despite significant strawberry acreage and yield increases, overall production value was down due to abundant supplies. California’s premium quality avocados continue to be in demand with a five-year record high price. Although, total production decreased because it was an alternate bearing year. Lemons had a 14% acreage increase along with a 12% rise in price per ton. Walnut acreage decreased as trees were removed. However, the demand increased for organically grown nuts resulting in a 30% increase in price. Overall, the Fruit and Nut category experienced a less than 1% decrease in overall value compared to 2016.

The much-welcomed rains of 2017 complicated the timing for planting vegetable crops through the winter months, delaying or cancelling normal cultural practices for many vegetable growers. This created an overall 18% drop in acreage and production compared to 2016. Labor shortages during harvest time also impacted total production, with higher value crops such as grapes and strawberries drawing from the labor pool. Prices were generally up for most vegetable types but yields were down, resulting in a less than 1% decline in overall value compared to 2016.

The number of cattle and calves sold during 2017 increased by 3% to 43,100 with prices up 23% averaging $138 per CWT. The cattle industry appears to be stabilizing relative to the prolonged drought experienced in recent years. Overall the livestock category increased by 6% compared to 2016, valued at just under $48 million.

The nursery industry had a relatively stable year compared to 2016, given the wet spring and shifting demands in retail plant material. Overall, nursery commerce experienced a 5% decrease with approximately $83 million in total value.

“Local agricultural producers remained key contributors to the local and statewide economies in 2017. Despite the challenges of the drought recovery, wide fluctuations in weather conditions and labor shortages, agriculture remains strong and diverse in San Luis Obispo County,” explained Settevendemie.

Statistics for the local agricultural industry featured in the Department’s Annual Crop Reports for 1928 through 2017 can be viewed in our Crop Report Library.