SALINAS VALLEY — Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales has released the county’s 2019 Crop Report, which included an evaluation of cannabis production for the first time.
“This report reflects a production value of $4,409,992,000, which is an increase of 3.5 percent from 2018,” Gonzales said in the report. “It is important to note that the values represented in this report reflect the gross value of agricultural commodities grown in Monterey County and not the costs associated with labor, field preparation, planting, irrigating, harvesting and other production activities. As is always the case, we saw some crops increase in value while others decreased.”
Gross production for cannabis in Monterey County totaled $450 million cultivated from 86 acres. This was in addition to the overall crop production countywide of $4.4 billion for 80 different crop commodities.
Since the county first adopted an ordinance in 2015 to allow cannabis cultivation, the cities of Salinas, Seaside, Gonzales, Greenfield and King City also adopted similar ordinances. Each ordinance varies on regulations and tax structures, but they all need the issuance of cultivation licenses from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The overall gross production value of crops rose to $4.4 billion from 2018’s $4.2 billion, seeing the largest gain in vegetable crops, which increased from $2.9 billion to $3.1 billion in one year. Production labeled as field crops grew from $23 million to $24 million.
Losses for the county were in fruits and nuts, which dipped to $1.02 billion in 2019 from $1.04 billion in the prior year. Nursery crops sank from $204 million to $143 million. Seed crops and apiaries toppled to $3.6 million from $5 million in 2018. Livestock and poultry almost held steady at a total of $110 million, seeing a dip of $18,000 from the prior year.
Major crop trends for the county this year were leaf lettuce with a total value of $840 million, strawberries with a total value of $732 million, head lettuce with a value of $514 million and broccoli valued at $457 million.
Other top crops included cauliflower at $212 million, miscellaneous vegetables at $196 million, celery at $186 million, wine grapes at $186 million, nursery plants at $143 million, spinach at $127 million, Brussels sprouts at $95 million, mushrooms at $86 million, cabbage at $61 million, artichoke at $53 million and peas at $52 million.
The most noticeable upper shift was wine grapes dropping from the county’s fifth top crop last year to the eighth top crop this year. Cabbage, valued at $61 million this year, also experienced a jump to 14th highest this year from 19th place last year. Kale, valued at $30 million, dropped from 16th place to 21st place.
The county grows 150 specialty crops and exports almost 400 billion pounds of produce out of the Salinas Valley on an annual basis. This year’s report theme noted that despite the prosperity, invasive insect species are a major threat to production.
“This year, in addition to presenting our crop values, we are drawing awareness to invasive species, which adversely affect agricultural production by resulting in quarantines and increasing the use of pesticides,” Gonzales said.
Highlighted threats to Monterey County crops included the Mediterranean fruit fly, Japanese beetle, Gypsy moth, glass-winged sharpshooter, Asian citrus psyllid and European grapevine moth.
Invasive insects were monitored through the use of 4,500 traps throughout the county, placed in neighborhoods, farmland, nurseries and natural areas.
Invasive weeds were also highlighted, with yellow starthistle and pampas grass highlighted in photos. Residents and visitors were asked to help combat the spread of weeds by cleaning boots after hiking and tires after biking.