June 26, 2012
It's not all green in the Salad Bowl of America. Agriculture, Monterey County's leading industry, was down by nearly 4 percent last year, according to the annual crop report released Tuesday by Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner Eric Lauritzen.
The report calculated a total crop value of about $3.85 billion last year. Although that number is a decline from 2010, it's still representative of a growth trend in recent years.
“We expect some fluctuations in production from year to year, based on market, price, weather and other factors,” Lauritzen said in a statement.
Leaf lettuce took back its number one spot from strawberries, as the value of lettuce grew by 7 percent to a value of $777 million, and strawberries fell by 5 percent to $714 million.
The biggest value drop came for wine grapes, which fell by 18 percent last year; that on top of a 27-percent decline in 2010. Wine grapes fell to their lowest value, and fewest tons harvested, in more than a decade.
But Rhonda Motil, executive director of the Vintners and Growers Association, is optimistic about a turnaround in 2012. “The weather was perfect, early cluster counts are up and inventories are down, which indicate a much better year ahead,” she said in a statement.
The ag commissioner also released a study earlier this year on the economic contributions of agriculture to Monterey County beyond raw revenue data. Monterey Institute of International Studies Professors Jeff Langholz and Fernando DePaolis co-authored the report and found that the industry contributed $8.2 billion and more than 73,000 jobs to the county economy in 2010.
To view the 2011 crop report, visit http://ag.co.monterey.ca.us.