• Ventura County Star: Ventura County crop values top $2 billion for second year
    Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at

  • Here's an article that appeared on November 4 in the Ventura County Star. It's good to see healthy crop production in Ventura County despite the drought. Limoneira uses Agromin mulch around its orchards to improve water efficiency, keep weeds down, prevent erosion and maintain moderate soil temperatures. 

    ROB VARELA/THE STAR Socorro Vasquez sorts lemons Tuesday at Limoneira Ranch in Santa Paula.

    By Kathleen Wilson

    VENTURA, Calif. - Strawberries ranked as the top crop in Ventura County last year, but lemons surged to second place and kale joined the list for the first time, a report released Tuesday says.
    County Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales said the estimated 2014 gross value of agricultural products totaled $2.14 billion, up 2 percent from 2013 despite the difficulties imposed by a sustained drought.

    "This is the second year in a row we have surpassed the $2 billion mark," Gonzales told the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.

    Gonzales credited the healthy results amid drought to relatively abundant local groundwater supplies and a bounty of crops. The report stated that more than 50 crops generated more than $1 million in gross receipts apiece.

    "That protects us," Gonzales said.

    Strawberries ranked far ahead of any other crop, with a reported value of almost $628 million. That was up by 3 percent from 2013 despite a decrease in harvested acreage, but off the $691 million
    recorded in 2012.

    Values for lemon production soared to a record of almost $270 million, up 43 percent over 2013.

    The growth was driven mainly by rising prices, said Alex Teague, senior vice president of the Limoneira Co., a Santa Paula lemon producer that has achieved record profits.

    Teague tied the increase in lemon prices to rising consumption. The industry has successfully marketed lemons not just for food, but also for skin care and cleaning products, Teague said.
    Although strawberries are still king in total estimated value, the amount of acreage declined by about 2,000 to 11,630 acres, the report stated.

    Strawberry growers are facing low prices, increased competition from Mexico, drought and a heat-driven increase in pests, officials said.

    Kale edged its way into the Top 10 list with an estimated gross value of almost $36 million.
    Demand has skyrocketed over the past few years, said Garrett Nishimori, marketing manager and corporate chef for San Miguel Produce, a major grower of kale in the county. "People want to try and eat healthier," he said.

    Nishimori said the versatile vegetable is being served in trendy restaurants and making its way into salads, smoothies and kale chips.

    Nishimori said he eats about a bag a week.

    "I throw it in everything," he said.

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