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April 2021, Volume 27, Number 2

California Agriculture

California?s 70,000 farms sold farm commodities worth $50 billion in 2019, almost twice the $28 billion in farm sales of Iowa. The six commodities whose farm sales each exceeded $2 billion accounted for over half of the state?s farm sales: milk, $7.3 billion; almonds, $6.1 billion; grapes, $5.4 billion; nursery and greenhouse commodities, $4.3 billion; cattle, $3.1 billion; and strawberries, $2.2 billion.

Fresno led the state with over $7.7 billion in farm sales, slightly ahead of Kern with just under $7.7 billion, Tulare with $7.5 billion, and Monterey with $4.4 billion. These four counties accounted for over half of the state?s farm sales.

The value of the state?s farm exports were $22 billion in 2019, led by $4.9 billion worth of almonds, $2 billion worth of pistachios and $1.8 billion worth of dairy products that were exported.

Farm sales are divided into broad crop and livestock categories. Fruits and nuts were worth $21.4 billion, vegetables and melons $8.2 billion, greenhouse, floriculture, and horticultural specialties $5.7 billion, and livestock products $12.3 billion. FVH commodities accounted for 70 percent of the state?s farm sales.

Almost 80 percent of fruit and nut sales were from five commodities: $6.1 billion from almonds; $5.4 billion worth from grapes; $2.2 billion worth from strawberries;, $1.9 billion from pistachios; and $1.3 billion from walnuts. About 56 percent of vegetable and melon sales were from four commodities: lettuce was worth $1.8 billion (including almost $1 billion for leaf and romaine); tomatoes $1.2 billion (including $0.9 billion for processing tomatoes); and broccoli and carrots were each worth $0.8 billion.

California produces 90 percent of US strawberries from 36,500 acres in 2021, including almost 80 percent that were planted in fall 2020 to be harvested in the spring and summer of 2021. Ag Pro Robotics of Watsonville developed the Strawbot to carry flats of harvested strawberries from pickers to collection stations, enabling pickers to pick 15 to 20 percent faster. Unlike conveyor belts, workers do not have to be of similar speed to use the Strawbot to convey full flats.

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