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SLO County 2016 crops valued at $915 million

Sharon Mollerus/Creative Commons

San Luis Obispo County’s agricultural crops were worth $915 million dollars last year. The county’s agricultural commissioner, Martin Settevendemie, released crop statistics for 2016 this week, and he said one surprising finding was that strawberry crops were almost as valuable as wine grapes on the market.

The value of San Luis Obispo County-grown fresh and processed strawberries was over $241 million, according to the county’s department of agriculture data. Wine grapes in 2016 were valued at $243 million dollars.

2015 was not a good growing year for grapes in San Luis Obispo county, but 2016 was much better, Settevendemie said.

“We had great growing conditions. We didn’t have any frost, so we had really good fruit set,” Settevendemie said. “And ultimately that led to very high yields. And we had really good prices across the board. So it was just a really good year for wine grapes.”

The heavy rains that fell on the Central Coast over the winter came after the fall wine grape harvest, and will be a boon to farmland soils.

“What has happened is that salts have accumulated in the soils, and that’s simply because we didn’t have the rains to leach out those salts. So the rains we saw this year should improve soil conditions,” Settevendemie said.

Avocados rebounded in 2016 with heavy yields and demand. There was also less competition from foreign markets, so in San Luis Obispo County, between 2015 and 2016, there was a 169 percent increase in value.

In total, 2016 saw a ten percent increase from 2015 in the value of all crops grown in San Luis Obispo County. The top ten commodities grow in the county last year were - in order, starting with number one - wine grapes, strawberries, avocados, broccoli, cattle and calves, vegetable transplants, cut flowers, head lettuce, cauliflower and lemons.