2012 Crop Report: Lemons again No. 2, Avocados No. 6 in gross values

August 16, 2013
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

Lemons again climbed to the No. 2 spot and avocados ranked No. 6 on the Ventura County Crop & Livestock Report that showed growers generated an almost $2 billion business in 2012.

Total crop values for the year rose to $1.96 billion, a 1.6 percent year-over-year increase. The annual report focuses only on the gross values of crops, not on the net return to county growers.

Strawberries remained at the top of the list presented by Henry Gonzales, agriculture commissioner, to the Board of Supervisors at a recent meeting. Supervisors learned the staple of salsa and the rising demand for cilantro put it on the Top 10 list for the first time.

Strawberries remained the No. 1 crop with a value of $691 million, an 11 percent increase from 2011. Lemons took back their No. 2 ranking from upstart raspberries, booking more in value - about $202 million, a 15 percent increase over 2011 - even as the acreage devoted to growing trees shrank by more than 300 acres. Raspberries booked No. 3 with $187 million.

Avocados’ No. 6 spot flip-flopped with No. 7 tomatoes, positions that were reversed in 2011. Avocados were valued at more than $113 million last year, while tomatoes were worth more than $75 million.

Nursery Stock showed the housing market and construction are on the upswing with its jump to the No. 4 spot with more than $186 million. Nursery stock was hit hard by the housing crisis when foreclosures soared and new construction was stopped, although a hefty increase from the $164 million in 2011 nursery stock is still about $100 million less than it was worth in 2008.

Celery’s $134 million gave it the No. 5 ranking and green peppers ranked No. 8 with more than $48 million. Peppers traded places with cut flowers, which at the No. 9 spot were valued at almost $47 million.

Cilantro was welcomed to the list at No. 10, debuting at more than $23 million. With a 30 percent increase from 2011 it was a record year for cilantro, also known as Mexican or Chinese parsley. 

There were other noteworthy million-dollar crops that didn’t make the Top 10: kale’s value soared a mind-boggling 90 percent to $21 million from $11 million; mandarin oranges doubled in value to $10 million as trees - especially the specialty varieties - began bearing more fruit; almost doubling the acreage brought broccoli a value of $8 million, up from 2011’s $3 million; and romaine lettuce increased to $5.7 million from the $1.8 million 2011 harvest.

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