SAN LUIS OBISPO — Despite a drop of 5.5% from the previous year, 2019 was still a good year for San Luis Obispo County’s agriculture industry. 

The County Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures released the 2019 crop report on Tuesday, Sept. 22, for the local agricultural industry. 

The agricultural industry in San Luis Obispo County continues to be a major contributor to the County’s economy. The overall crop value recorded for 2019 was $979 million, falling from the record-high amount tallied in 2018. Despite the 5.5% decrease from the previous year, 2019 still marked the second-highest annual crop value on record for San Luis Obispo County.

This figure represents only gross commodity values and does not reflect net profits received by local agricultural producers. Also, reported values do not include multipliers related to secondary economic benefits.

The top 10 commodities by value in 2019 were:

  1. Strawberries
  2. All Wine Grapes
  3. Broccoli
  4. Avocados
  5. Vegetable Transplants
  6. Cattle and Calves
  7. Cauliflower
  8. Cut Flowers
  9. Head Lettuce
  10. Lemons

Accounting for 28% of the County’s overall crop value, strawberries took the top rank in 2019, overtaking wine grapes for the first time since 2015. Strawberry acreage remained stable, but prices for both fresh and processed strawberries pushed the value to $271,431,000.

The value of wine grapes fell by 8% with consistent bearing acreage. An oversupply of wine grapes contributed partially to the decline in value, leaving some lesser quality fruit unharvested. Wine grapes ended the year with an overall value of $254,273,000.

The animal industry saw a decrease in overall value ending the year at $41,073,000, a reduction of 15%. This can be attributed to the lingering impacts of drought, pushing ranchers to sell fewer cattle in an effort to rebuild herds. The number of head sold during 2019 was down 18% to 36,765.

The vegetable industry ended the year with a 5% decline in value and a 7% decrease in harvested acres. Collectively, all vegetable crops account for over 22% of the County’s total crop value.

Field crops ended the year with a significant 29% increase over 2018, ending the year at $24,180,000. Both prices and yields for the various field crops were generally higher for the year. Additionally, due to the 2018 Farm Bill’s passage and growers’ ability to produce industrial hemp, 2019 marks the first year where industrial hemp is included in the annual crop report.

Nursery products have remained relatively stable over the past three years, with growers seeking new markets, shifting production, and adapting to varying demand for cut flowers, ornamental plants, and transplants. The nursery industry ended the year with a value of $80,556,000.

“Due to many factors such as supply, demand and available markets, agricultural values will vary from year to year and although we saw a slight decline in overall crop values in 2019, the agricultural industry remains a strong and vital segment of our local economy”, according to Martin Settevendemie, Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer.

Statistics for the local agricultural industry featured in the Department’s Annual Crop Reports for 1928 through 2018 can be viewed in the Crop Report Library.

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