Apr 13, 2010 10:18 PM by Ariel Wesler
It was a record year for farmers and growers in Santa Barbara County.
The annual crop report says ag production topped more than $1.2 billion dollars in 2009. That's the highest total on record. The report also shows a nine percent increase in total value over 2008, with strawberries topping the list.
Santa Barbara County is an agricultural mecca on the Central Coast and this year's top pick. . .strawberries. Countywide, more than $344 million worth were picked, packaged, and sold.
"It gets everybody going to grow more berries for the next year, said George Chavez with L & G farms.
He says there are more than 10,000 acres of strawberry fields in the Santa Maria Valley--where the weather makes them a prime crop.
"Right now, there's a lot of growers that do grow strawberries most of the year and that's what helps us out because we can breed those varieties for the area," Chavez said.
Strawberries are no stranger to being number one. They've been Santa Barbara County's top crop for the last eight years and ranked in the top three since the 1970s.
"We're already above Oxnard and Ventura County. . .all we have to deal with now is the northern districts," Chavez said.
Broccoli placed 2nd and wine grapes ranked 3rd. Vineyards grew an average of four tons of grapes per acre--about a ton more than last year.
"It's second to 05, which is the largest crop we've ever had in the history of grape growing," said Ardison Phillips, who owns the McKeon Phillips Winery.
So, for all you wine connoseiurs, be sure to grab a bottle.
"They'll be up there in terms of the top maybe three or four vintages of the decade," Phillips said.
Overall, this year's crop report stacked up nicely.
Santa Barbara County ranked 14th in production out of 58 counties. The ag commissioner emphasizes these are gross values and do not reflect the growers and farmers net income.
To view the entire report, click here
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