women unloading fresh produce from truck

Central Valley, California, sometimes called the Great Central Valley, has been an agricultural hub for ages. Stretching some 450 miles and encompassing multiple metropolitan hubs as well as thousands of growing operations, the Central Valley has long been a destination for people to realize their growing dreams. Attracting folks from all over the world who brought crops with them, the area produces an incredible diversity and a staggering quantity of crops every year. Why is that, exactly? What sort of crops do growers produce in this beautiful region?

Unique conditions create a farmer’s dream

The Central Valley enjoys about 300 days of sun annually and has Class I soil, the best soil there is. The temperature differential between day and night — about 25 degrees, give or take — is ideal for plants. Winters are mild, and there’s rarely snow. These mild winters are why California can produce abundant fresh crops throughout the chilliest months.

Central Valley produces hundreds of different crops

In the Midwest, you typically see two crops: corn and soybeans. However, growers in the Central Valley produce a bountiful biodiversity of crops — more than 300 different kinds every year. Some you’ll recognize, like citrus, wine and table grapes, tomatoes, and a vast array of vegetables. Other crops enjoy niche production and markets, like the moqua or Chinese squash.

The Central Valley supplies about 25% of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and other food products, yet farmland acreage only comprises 1% of all U.S. farmland. In addition, Tulare County is one of the leading producers across the state and nation for milk.

High-quality, high-value crops

In addition to the grocery store staples we associate with farming, the Central Valley is also home to special crops in high demand. This region of California produces 75% of the state’s wine grape varieties, renowned worldwide for quality and diverse flavor profiles. In addition, California enjoys a similar climate to other famous wine-producing regions like Tuscany and Morocco. These steadily warm Mediterranean climates allow wine grapes to reach their full potential on the vine.

Another Mediterranean crop that has found great success in the Central Valley is olives. With such ideal growing conditions, it’s no wonder Central Valley olive oils have been judged among the best in the state.

The almond capital of the world

That’s right, you read that correctly: the world. Almonds are now the second-largest crop in all of California and the top crop in certain Central Valley counties. It’s not just a healthy, snackable nut. Almonds are in high demand for their use in creating almond milk, almond butter, and almond-based baking supplies like flour and marzipan. Every year, more and more producers are replacing current crops with almond trees and getting in on California’s almond boom. California almond production rose for about 25 years, with a notable acceleration in recent years. 2022 was the first year in all this time that almond production went down. Tens of thousands of acres were determined to be stressed or abandoned. Some may stand a chance of recovering.

A delicate system hands in the balance

Growers have been enjoying the bountiful lands in the Central Valley for decades, but this enjoyment can come at a price, as our natural resources are continually depleted. Without careful management, the Central Valley may lose its Class I soil, and once-fertile land could fail to produce the crops that feed 25% of our country. For growers, incorporating strategies to improve and protect soil health can ensure our continued ability to grow diverse crops in this unique environment. Similarly, many growers face the same mounting water challenges threatening the rest of the state.

We are not hopeless in the face of these challenges, but ignoring the problem will exacerbate the issue and result in thousands of acres more being designated stressed or unusable. We already have numerous tools and solutions we can implement to become more sustainable in our growing operations and maintain the health of the Central Valley.

Here for all your growing needs

At FGS, we’re here to help you adapt and transition towards more sustainable practices that will ensure we can continue producing an abundance of food in the Central Valley for decades to come and connect you with all your agricultural supplier needs. Our experts are here to connect you with flexible solutions for all your growing needs. Have any questions? We’re happy to help – stop in one of our supply stores today or fill out our contact form by clicking below.

Have any questions? We’re happy to help – stop in one of our supply stores today, or fill out our contact form by clicking below.


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