The 2022 crop report for Santa Cruz County shows modest gains across most of the local agriculture industry. Notably, the value of wine grapes has swung drastically over the past four years, and the value of cut flowers continues to bounce back to nearly pre-pandemic levels after dropping sharply in 2020.
The 2022 crop report for Santa Cruz County was released Friday and, as in 2021, shows modest gains across most of the local agriculture industry, while wine grapes and nursery crops swing back to pre-pandemic levels.
Total crop values in Santa Cruz County approached $667 million in 2022, up 1.5% following 3.4% growth in 2021 and a 1.7% increase in 2020. These crop values do not reflect losses from the winter storms earlier this year; those numbers will be reflected in the 2023 crop report, available in the fall of 2024.
Berries, particularly strawberries, continue to be the most lucrative crop in the county and represent 60% of total agricultural economic activity. Overall berry values, including strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, grew 3.4% to more than $404 million. Vegetable crops, valued at $101 million, grew 5.6%.
Notably, the value of wine grapes has swung drastically over the past four years. In 2021, the gross value of wine grapes grew a whopping 64% due to a bumper crop. In 2022, it fell 24%, coming in at just under $6 million. This is comparable to the value in 2019 — $5.6 million — one of the most recent “normal” years. In 2020, the value dropped to $4.8 million due to the negative impact of wildfire smoke.
Nursery crops — basically any plant grown for distribution, including cut flowers — also decreased 6.4% to almost $128 million. This reflects a decrease in the value of nursery stock, which includes indoor potted plants, landscape plants and Christmas trees, from $111 million to $104 million, and a small dip in the value of cut flowers and greens compared to 2021. The cut-flower industry was hit hard during the pandemic — it decreased 58% in 2020 from $27 million in 2019 to $11.5 million — but continues to bounce back to a nearly pre-pandemic value of $23.7 million.
The full 2022 crop report for Santa Cruz County can be viewed at agdept.com.