For the fourth consecutive year, the value of agricultural products grown in Santa Barbara County during the past year surpassed the $1 billion mark, according to Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Guy Tingos.

The figures were released Monday by the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office as part of the 2009 Agricultural Production Report. Click here to view the 2009 report, as well as reports since 1916.

Agriculture continues to be the county’s major producing industry with a gross production value of $1,241,400,501 in 2009. This is an increase of $104 million, or about 9.1 percent, when compared with the 2008 report. It is the fourth consecutive year that gross value of agriculture products surpassed the $1 billion mark.

The Agricultural Commissioner’s Office annual report documents the acreage, yield and gross dollar value of agricultural commodities produced in the county. The report shows gross values; production, transportation and marketing costs must be subtracted to determine net returns to growers.

“Santa Barbara County’s agricultural strength is due to our crop diversity,” Tingos said. “Agriculture also continues to provide a strong base for our local economy, and through the multiplier effect, agriculture and related activities had a total contribution in 2009 of more than $2.4 billion to the economy.”

Strawberries had record-setting yields and remained the county’s leading crop in 2009, grossing $344.6 million. Broccoli remained in second place with a total value of $149.9 million.

An above-average harvest moved wine grapes closer, but still in third place, with a total value of $137.4 million. Strong prices moved cauliflower into fourth place at $63.2 million. Head lettuce followed with gross receipts of $62 million and completes the list of the top five commodities produced in 2009.

Santa Barbara County is California’s 14th-ranked county in total agricultural production. The success of the county’s agriculture is in the diversity of the crops grown here. More than 50 crops produced in 2009 reported gross receipts of more than $1 million per crop variety.

— Guy Tingos is deputy commissioner in the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.