Crop Report: Values slip by 1 percent, berries jump to #2, lemons #3 on Top 10

August 01, 2012
Santa Paula News

Ventura County’s overall crop value last year slipped 1 percent to $1.84 billion last year, the first decrease since 2005 according to the annual crop report released Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors.

And avocados were creamed: the value of the crop represented by many orchards in the Santa Clara River Valley dropped 38 percent from the previous reporting year. Avocados ranked Number 7, with a value of $91.8 million. Also on the minus side of the 2011 Crop Report were tomatoes, celery, cut flowers, nursery stock - hit hard by the real estate market during the Great Recession - and peppers.

Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales told supervisors that avocado crops trade off production levels year to year. The decrease in value, he added, is not indicative of any major problem. Gonzales also described the overall 1 percent decline as minimal, possibly due more to late reporting of some avocado figures not being included in the report.

Strawberries had nothing to worry about: with a 15 percent increase to $625 million, they again topped the Top 10 of county crops for a decade.

But there’s another sweet fruit right on the heels of strawberries, at least value wise: raspberries, a relative newcomer to traditional county crops, captured the Number 2 spot with $ 185.4 million in revenues, up 11 percent from 2010. Although Gonzales said it was a surprise, he does not consider the increase for raspberries as significant, but rather “more due to another commodity coming down.” 

Lemons, the King of the River Valley, ranked Number 3, with a value of $174.9 million in 2011.

There was a significant drop in nursery stock, which in 2010 was Number 3 and last year ranked fourth at $163.8 million, a loss of about $16 million from the 2010 report. Nursery stock has lost 45 percent of its value since 2008, when the crop brought in $298.7 million in revenue. 

With the continuing downturn in the real estate market, there is less landscaping. And although losses have slowed, nursery stock - again prominently grown in the Santa Clara River Valley - is still on the decline.

Tomatoes dropped 17 percent in value to Number 6 at $154.6 million, likely the result of too much of a good thing with strong production that caused a drop in prices. Celery went from Number 2 in 2010 to Number 5 with a 15 percent decrease in value to $99.5 million, which Gonzales attributed to lower production. Rounding out the Top Ten were cut flowers (Number 8 with a 2011 value of $52.2 million), peppers (Number 9, $41.7 million) and greens (Number 10 with a value of $20.7 percent).

Unmentioned were Valencia oranges, for decades a staple of the Top 10 and heavily grown in the Santa Clara River Valley, which this year did not make the list. For years Valencia orchards have been pulled and replanted with other crops, most often with nursery stock.

All in all, Gonzales said Ventura County “has consistently ranked 8th and 9th statewide in total crop value,” and placed 9th and 10th nationwide. Gonzales also gave Supervisors a virtual tour of the revamped Agricultural Commissioner website, and noted the homepage contains a link to the department’s Facebook page.

For more information or to download the report visit:

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.