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Santa Barbara County releases annual agricultural report, strawberries remain top crop

Strawberry field
Dave Alley/KEYT
Strawberries grow at West Coast Berry Farms along Black Road in Santa Maria. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Santa Barbara County released its 2021 Agricultural Crop Report Monday morning.

The annual summary showed a strong market for all crops, especially strawberries, which remained by far and away the number one crop in the county.

“Agriculture continues to be the County’s major producing industry with a gross production value of $1,918,186,000.  This is an increase of $98,988,000 or 5.1% when compared with the 2020 figure.” said Agricultural Commissioner Cathy Fisher. “The Agricultural Commissioner’s annual report documents the acreage, yield, and gross dollar value of agricultural commodities produced in Santa Barbara County.” Fisher said.  

According to the report, the total gross production value of all crops combined was $1,918,186,000, surpassing the 2020 gross production value by $98,988,000, a 5.1% increase.

The strawberry crop continued lead the way, posting a value of $849,729,000, an increase of $122,285,000 from the previous year.

"Last year's crop was a real boon," said Tim Driscoll, West Coast Berry Farms general manager. "It maintained a good product level. It made a cost level. It made a good profit level. It was a huge, huge year for us and for I think all the growers around here."

Driscoll added it was a special year for growers, and especially consumers, for the way the entire season turned out.

"The quality was there, that was the big thing that I saw because there were a lot of different varieties, but the quality fed into the marketplace and boy howdy, was that a run!" said Driscoll.

The next biggest crop was nursery products, valued at $119,137,000. Next was wine grapes $105,151,000, followed by broccoli at $101,371,000, and cauliflower at $80,299,000.

For wine grapes, the third place ranking marked a significant move up from the 2020 crop report when it landed in the fifth position.

"It was a very comfortable year," said Bill Wathen, Foxen Vineyard and Winery founder and director of marketing. "We didn't have any really heat bombs, like we've had in previous years. We had weather on our side and enough nice, mellow harvest and that's really important."

Fisher said the overall success of the 2021 crop was a significant accomplishment considering ongoing impacts from COVID-19, drought and supply distribution issues at California’s local ports.

Article Topic Follows: Agriculture
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Dave Alley

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