The commercial strawberry crops grown in Santa Barbara County were worth almost a half a billion dollars last year alone. That’s according to the 2016 Crop Report, released Monday by the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office. The report lists the acreage, yield and gross dollar value of each of the county's crops.
Last year’s gross production value of the county’s crops stands at a total of $1.4 billion. That was a drop of over $50 million dollars from 2015.
Strawberries were the number one crop, exceeding number two - wine grapes - by over $260 million. At number three, broccoli grown in Santa Barbara County last year had a gross value of $149 million. Beyond those high-value top three, the rest of the top ten crops grown in Santa Barbara County last year were, in order: cut flowers, head lettuce, cauliflower, avocado, celery and leaf lettuce.
The report says raspberries had a bad year in 2016, dropping in value by over $44 million dollars from 2015. But blackberries had a very good year, with crops increasing in value by nearly $10 million.
Santa Barbara County Ag Commissioner Cathy Fisher said poor water quality and labor issues impacted all of the crops. She also pointed out the report details crops’ total value, not how much income each grower is earning.
“It is always important to note that the figures provided in the annual crop report are gross values and do not represent or reflect net profit or loss experienced by individual growers or by the industry as a whole,” Fisher wrote in her cover letter to Santa Barbara Ccounty supervisors. “Growers do not have control over most input costs, such as fuel, fertilizers, and packaging, nor can they significantly affect market prices.”
Agriculture is Santa Barbara County’s top economic contributor, providing over 25,000 jobs. The county is ranked 13th in the state for total agricultural production.
The report, as well as annual crop reports dating back to 1916, can be found here.