Drought doesn’t diminish county crop yield

Less lettuce, more wine grapes and nuts harvested

County agricultural commissioner Ha Dang at the lectern
  • County agricultural commissioner Ha Dang at the lectern

San Diego County released figures on the region's annual agricultural output Wednesday, September 10, placing the total value of the farming industry within the county at over $1.8 billion in 2013, an increase of more than $100 million from the previous year.

Cultivation of ornamental trees and shrubbery, along with that of decorative indoor plants, comprise the bulk of the region's cash crops, accounting for 41 percent of the total income generated.

Production of fruits and nuts have surged recently, led by a 25 percent increase in the value of avocado crops (which accounted for nearly $200 million in sales alone) and a spike in wine-grape production, which is now a $6.5 million local industry.

Field crops and vegetables such as lettuce were exceptions to the generally rosy picture painted by the report, falling in overall value as a result of significantly fewer acres being planted.

"In spite of a sustained drought...farming output has actually increased," noted county supervisor Dianne Jacob at a ceremony for the report's release held Wednesday morning at an El Cajon nursery.

Roughly 305,000 acres within the county are currently used for agricultural purposes, with an average crop value of $457,000 — highest in the state of California. San Diego also boasts the largest number of farms in any county nationwide at 5732, though most are smaller operations with less than ten acres each.

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