SLO County wine grapes drop in value, strawberries are the best crop



Workers pick Okui strawberries at Grover Beach.

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The crops in San Luis Obispo County lost only a small amount of value in 2020 – although some did better than others during the coronavirus pandemic.

the the value of the county’s agricultural products was $ 978,675,000 in 2020, a decrease of 1% from 2019, according to the county’s annual crop statistics report. Martin Settevendemie, departmental commissioner for agriculture and plumber for weights and measures, presented the report to the supervisory board on Tuesday.

The 2020 season was the second year in a row, the county’s aggregate value of agricultural products fell to just under $ 1 billion. The county first surpassed that mark in 2018, when its harvest was valued at $ 1,035,499,000.

Strawberries were the county’s main crop in 2020, beating wine grapes for the second year in a row. The value of the fruit increased by almost 6%, from $ 271 million in 2019 to $ 287 million in 2020, a record total.

Wine grapes were worth $ 218 million in 2020, a five-year low. The crop – which was the county’s main agricultural product from 2016 to 2018 – “faced considerable challenges in 2020,” the report said.

“With prices and returns drastically dropping due to a combination of challenges – including reduced demand, oversupply in the market, and concerns about a possible smell of smoke from late season fires – the value overall wine grapes decreased by 14% over the previous year and marked the lowest value in the past five years, ”the report says.

Avocados, cattle and calves, and vegetable transplants completed the county’s top five crops for 2020.

GRAPES AGAINST BERRIES 2020 copy_Tribune.jpg

SLO County ranchers and producers face the impacts of the pandemic

The county’s animal industry – which is primarily dedicated to cattle and calves – had a particularly strong year and saw its value increase by 13% due to “significant increases in livestock sales.”

Cattle producers sold 28% more head of cattle in 2020 compared to the previous year, a trend that Settevendemie says will increase as drought conditions worsen.

“As we have seen in past droughts, we will most likely see another peak in sales in 2021, as pastoralists downsize herds to match the carrying capacity of their land and their ability to provide food. ‘extra water and food,’ he told the supervisory board.

Overall, the county’s agriculture industry has felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused restaurant closures, changed shopping habits and disrupted production.

LIST OF TOP 10 OF THE 2020 HARVEST REPORT copy_Tribune.jpg

This was especially true for vegetable crops, which eventually saw their value increase by 7% but had a “chaotic year”.

“Despite difficult markets at the start of the pandemic, demand for vegetables rebounded later in the season after the initial shock of restaurant closures across the country subsided,” the report said. “Favorable weather conditions have also helped market gardeners cope with the challenges posed by the unprecedented nature of a global pandemic. “

Field crops saw a 16% drop in value “due to various market and weather factors,” the report said.

In particular, growers planted 29% less alfalfa in 2020, marking a significant shift from the crop.

Nursery products, including commercial vegetable plants and cut flowers, also saw their value decline by around 6% amid declining demand.

“However, some segments of the nursery industry have performed surprisingly well, as growers who produce bedding plants, indoor and outdoor ornamentals, and vegetable transplants directly to consumers have thrived as a result of increased demand from home gardeners, ”the report says.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, Northern County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is originally from California and raised in the Midwest and graduated from DePaul and Northwestern Universities.


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