The warm climate of California and rich soils makes many parts of the state ideal for the cultivation of Mediterranean crops, citrus, and exotic fruits hailing from tropical parts of the world. If you’re thinking of growing crops in California, it can help to know which fruits, nuts, and other agricultural products the Golden State produces with resounding success. Read on to discover the 10 top crops in California in 2018 and how Fruit Growers Supply can help your agricultural endeavor thrive.
1. Dairy Products and Milk — $6.37 Billion
Every year, the California Department of Food and Agriculture gathers data on the economic value of each of the main crops in California. This assists the state with planning and also provides valuable information for those growing crops in California. According to data gathered in 2018, the highest grossing agricultural commodity in California was milk and dairy products, with a sale value of $6.37 billion.
According to Real California Milk, California is home to more than 1200 dairy farms, of which 99% are family owned. Besides milk itself, cheese is the second most important dairy commodity produced with nearly 46% of California milk going to produce California cheese.
2. Grapes — $6.25 Billion
At just $0.12 billion behind milk and dairy, wine grapes and table grapes represent the second highest grossing crops grown in California. The climate of California is so conducive to grape growing that the Golden State actually produces more than 99% of all table grapes in the U.S.!
Most table grapes grown in California are cultivated in the Coachella Valley and San Joaquin Valley, while wine grapes are grown in 49 out of 58 counties — making California the #1 producer of wine in the United States and the fourth largest producer in the world after France, Italy, and Spain.
3. Almonds — $5.47 Billion
California’s #1 export commodity in 2014, almonds are one of the top crops in California for boosting both internal and external revenue. Valued at $5.47 billion in 2018, the California almond industry provides 97,000 jobs in the Central Valley — roughly a third of which are related to the processing of almonds and the manufacturing of almond-derived products.
Wondering how almonds figure water-wise among the top crops grown in California? Thanks to a 33% reduction in water use over the period 1990–2010, almond cultivation now uses no more water than other fruit and nut trees grown in the area.
4. Cattle and Calves — $3.19 Billion
The fifth largest cattle producer in the United States, California has put itself on the map as a major player in the American beef and cattle industry. Of 100 million acres of land in the entire state, 38 million of these acres are used as range and pasture lands for cattle, with the Mediterranean grasslands of the North Coast providing forage for longer periods each year than the South Coast.
5. Pistachios — $2.62 Billion
Not falling far behind almonds, pistachios are one of the most prolific crops grown in California. The American Pistachio Growers association represents more than 800 grower members in the states of California, Arizona, and New Mexico — although 99% of American pistachio crops are grown in California itself.
The crop was introduced to California’s growers in the mid-1970s and has grown along with the popularity of the nut to become the fifth main crop in California. Globally, more pistachios are produced in California than anywhere else.
6. Strawberries — $2.34 Billion
With their sweet, juicy taste, strawberries are a popular fruit that grow year-round in California in the 500 mile area between San Diego and San Francisco. The sixth of our 10 top crops in California, strawberries grow in California at a higher yield per acre than in any other state and are exported every year to Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Hong Kong. Of strawberry crops grown in California, 75% is sold fresh and the remaining 25% frozen for sale in processed products.
7. Lettuce — $1.81 Billion
Over 90% of the lettuce in the United States is grown in California — with cultivation centering in the Salinas Valley and Imperial Valley. Introduced to the New World by Christopher Columbus, lettuce is now the second most common vegetable in the United States after onion and offers a heart-healthy way to round out your plate.
Unlike many other vegetables, lettuce is usually eaten raw. That makes water filtration even more essential for ensuring a crop that is safe for consumers.
8. Floriculture — $1.22 Billion
California leads the nation in flower sales — accounting for over a billion dollars in revenue for the state in 2018. Among the main flower crops grown in California, roses, lilies, daisies, chrysanthemums, and snapdragons are popular as cut flowers, orchids, poinsettias, spring bulbs, roses, and chrysanthemums are sold in pots, and pansies, violas, petunias, impatiens, and marigolds are sold as garden plants.
9. Tomatoes — $1.20 Billion
With its Mediterranean climate, California is the ideal place for producing another Italian favorite: tomatoes. As of 2015, California produced more than 90% of the processed tomato products sold in the United States and nearly 50% of processed tomato products (by weight) in the world. In 2019, tomato growing accounted for 235,000 acres of land use for crops grown in California and 11.2 million tons of tomatoes were harvested for processing.
10. Oranges — $1.12 Billion
The largest producer of citrus in the country, California supplies more than 80% of the fresh citrus fruits consumed in the United States and exports citrus to 16 countries around the world. One of the most popular crops grown in California, oranges are grown in the San Joaquin Valley — the location that boasts 75% of California’s total citrus acreage.
Maximize Yield and Transport Your Commodities Safely with Fruit Growers Supply
Founded in 1907 as a partner to Sunkist Growers, Fruit Growers Supply specializes in creating transport and irrigation solutions for California farmers. Among the top crops in California, fruits like grapes and strawberries require water-wise irrigation and special care in transit. Contact us to learn more about the main crops in California and find out how FGS can help you maximize your yields and boost your profits today.