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County has new crop king

SAN DIEGO COUNTY – There’s a new king, crop-wise, in San Diego County, ornamental trees and shrubs, according to the annual crop report put out by the San Diego County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures.

Since 1984, indoor flowering plants and foliage has been San Diego County’s number-one valued crop. But it was edged out in 2009 by ornamental trees and shrubs, which, county officials said, could indicate a shift by local growers away from operating expensive greenhouses to less-costly outdoor nurseries.

The new crop report also showed that San Diego County’s agriculture industry remained steady in 2009 despite the ongoing recession, continued water-supply concerns and a record number of pest-related quarantines. Overall, the industry’s value topped $1.548 billion in 2009, a decrease of roughly one-fourth of one percent, .26 percent, from 2008. By contrast, California’s agriculture industry suffered a nine percent decrease in value in 2009.

“Growing in San Diego County has always been about adjusting, said County Agriculture Commissioner Bob Atkins, “to drought, freeze, fires, economy, pests and diseases. It’s good to see that growing in San Diego is still economically viable.”

Meanwhile, Agriculture, Weights and Measures department officials said the County’s new “detector dog” team could help reduce the number of pest-related quarantines local growers have endured in recent years.

The County introduced “Friday,” a black Labrador trained to sniff out agricultural pests in packages, as its newest agricultural inspector in May 2009. The County added a second dog, “Drake,” this year. The detector dog teams intercepted 575 unmarked parcels in 2009.

Top 10 Crops in County in 2009

Crop Value

1. Ornamental Trees and Shrubs $365,203,494

2. Indoor Flowering & Foliage Plants $290,880,000

3. Bedding Plants, Color $227,796,845

4. Avocados $130,478,067

5. Tomatoes $91,303,425

6. Lemons $32,419,800

7. Cactus & Succulents $23,640,375

8. Herbaceous Perennials $26,340,718

9. Herbs $20,731,624

10. Poinsettia $19,500,000


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