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Strawberries Retain Top Spot Among Santa Barbara County Crops

Overall agricultural production for 2014 was nearly $1.5 billion, according to report from ag commissioner

Strawberries remained the top-grossing crop in Santa Barbara County in 2014. Wine grapes were a distant second.
Strawberries remained the top-grossing crop in Santa Barbara County in 2014. Wine grapes were a distant second. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Strawberries continued to hold the sweet spot for Santa Barbara County agriculture in 2014, according to figures released Thursday by the county agricultural commissioner.

The total gross value of the county's crops was nearly $1.5 billion, a 3.7-percent increase over the previous year, said Cathy M. Fisher, county agricultural commissioner.

In was the ninth straight year the county exceeded $1 billion in agricultural production.

The strawberry crop held the No. 1 spot with a value of $464,721,467, which accounts for 38 percent of the county's overall ag production.

Fresh strawberries experienced a reduction of acreage but slight gain in production, while processed strawberries experienced a 16-percent increase in value.

2014 Santa Barbara Ag Production
Crop Value %
Strawberries $464,721,467 38%
Wine Grapes $155,255,791 13%
Broccoli $137,379,835 11%
Cut Flowers $104,936,868 8%
Nursery Products $86,092,464 7%
Head Lettuce $80,464,119 6%
Avocados $59,935,818 5%
Cauliflower $59,575,432 5%
Raspberries $45,155,060 4%
Celery $40,474,087 3%

Wine grapes ran a distant second in the crop list at a value of $155,255,791, with pinot noir and chardonnay being the top two varietals.

Rounding out the top 10 crops were broccoli ($137,379,835), cut flowers ($104,936,868), nursery products ($86,092,464), head lettuce ($80,464,119), avocados ($59,935,818), cauliflower ($59,575,432), raspberries ($45,155,060) and celery ($40,474,087).

"Agriculture is the No. 1 contributor to the county’s economy, and through the multiplier effect, contributes a total of $2.8 billion to the local economy and provides 25,370 jobs," Fisher noted.

Pests such as the bagrada bug and the ongoing drought affected some crops, Fisher said.

The latter was particularly a problem for the cattle industry, which saw its production drop precipitously, from $32,480,251 in 2013 to $22,888,800 last year.

"Ranchers reported having to reduce their herd numbers by 50 percent or more," the report notes. "If the drought continues much longer, the impact to Santa Barbara County's cattle industry could be catastrophic."

Fisher also noted that the figures provided in the report are gross values, and do not reflect net profit or loss experienced by individual growers or by the industry as a whole.

[Click here to read the entire report]

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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