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July 2022, Volume 28, Number 3

California: $49 billion

California had farm sales of $49 billion in 2020, down from $51 billion in 2019. The most valuable commodity was milk worth $7.5 billion; followed by almonds worth $5.6 billion; nursery crops worth $5.1 billion; and grapes worth $4.9 billion.

California is projected to harvest 2.8 billion pounds of almonds from 1.4 million bearing acres in 2022, an average 2,000 pounds per acre. During the late 1990s, there were fewer than 500,000 bearing acres of almonds and production was less than a billion pounds a year, indicating that bearing acreage and production tripled. Almond yields peaked at 3,100 pounds per acre in 2020, when over 3.1 billion pounds were harvested. Fresno county has 250,000 bearing acres of almonds; Kern almost 200,000; Madera 145,000; and Merced 125,000 acres.

California is projected to harvest almost 12 million tons of processing tomatoes from 235,000 acres in 2022. Fresno has the most acreage, 63,000, followed by Yolo with 32,000 acres, Kings with 30,000, and Merced with 25,000 acres.

California has 700 certified farmers’ markets. The Direct Marketing Act of 1978 allowed farmers to sell their produced directly to consumers.

More fruits and vegetables are being grown in substrate of coir, peat and perlite rather than soil, and in CEA facilities rather than open fields. CEA substrate strawberries, for example, are normally raised off the ground by three to five feet and planted in three-foot long substrate bags placed on top of gutters that remove excess water, allowing workers to pick berries faster and with less bending.

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