Sonoma County Department of Ag/Weights & Measures September Update

Written By: Tony Linegar, Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights & Measures
Published: September 3, 2019

Sonoma County Crop Report Exceeds One Billion Dollars!

On August 20, 2019, the 2018 Sonoma County crop report was presented to the Board of Supervisors. The gross value of agricultural commodities produced in 2018 is $1,106,662,100. This marks the first time we have exceeded the one billion dollar mark. The previous record was $899 million for the 2014 crop. As would be expected, winegrapes represent the majority of that value in 2018
with a crop value of $777,675,300, which works out to 70% of the total value. Not only is this record value for the winegrape crop, but also record tonnage at 275,977 tons. The 2018 growing season will go down as nearly ideal with an extended bloom, cool spring and a mild summer. Except for small rain event at the beginning of October, it was a pretty smooth and predictable harvest without the compaction of grapes all ripening at once as we have experienced in recent years.

The 2018 crop report features the Sonoma County dairy industry as the theme. The last time we featured dairy on the cover was 2004, so they were definitely overdue! Dairy value remains a strong second to winegrapes at $141 million. Normally we receive milk production numbers from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), but with last year’s shift to the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO), the state will not be providing those numbers. I want to thank Doug Berretta for his assistance in developing production numbers for 2018 in the absence of the CDFA statistics. I have spoken to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) about this issue and they will be working on providing those production numbers going forward.

Rounding out the 2018 harvest, apples saw tonnage increase by 6% over 2017 which had been one of the worst years on record for apples. Egg value saw a slight decrease from 2017 but remained strong at nearly $39 million. Oat and rye hay showed a slight increase in value with bigger yields being mostly offset by fewer acres being planted in 2018. One of the most dramatic increases in value occurred in the category of nursery products. Nursery product value was up 42% from 2017 to a total of $50 million. It appears that a variety of factors may account for the increase such as a strong market for grapevine nursery stock as well as increased demand driven by the replacement of fire-damaged landscaping and buoyed by a good economy and the subsidence of drought conditions. Additionally, a new large wholesale nursery came online in Petaluma, contributing to the overall increase in value.

Overall, I think the 2018 crop year will be remembered as a season with mild weather that benefitted most crops and led to high-quality winegrapes that will produce an amazing vintage!

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