In California, Santa Cruz County farmers produced crops worth a record $683 million in 2018. This is a strong reversal from the prior year when production value fell for the first time in a decade.
Despite market challenges, strawberries held on to their perennial title of the county’s most valuable crop. Worth $220 million, the sweet red berries accounted for more than a third of last year’s gross agricultural production value.
But it was raspberries that saw a more remarkable surge. Raspberries grown in the county hit a record $168 million production value — up 52% from the prior year — as the berry continued to command a higher wholesale price.
The figures were released Thursday by county Agricultural Commissioner Juan Hidalgo in the 2018 Crop Report for Santa Cruz County: “Weather, low prices and oversupply impacted our local growers in 2017, making for a challenging year. We’re happy to see a significant rebound in 2018 to put us back in line with historic growth in crop values. It demonstrates how resilient our local industry is.”
In 2017, declining wholesale prices for strawberries led to a 9% dip in the value of Santa Cruz County crops. Gross production value fell from $637 million in 2016 to $581 million in 2017, the first decline since 2008 when production value dipped by just $6 million.
According to an article on santacruzsentinel.com¸ the strawberries’ wholesale cost has steadily fallen in recent years as the summer market is flooded with a glut of berries produced by new, higher-yielding varietals. In 2015, strawberries grown in the county sold for an average of $2,124 per ton. Last year, the berries sold for an average of $1,700 per ton.