San Diego County's agricultural production, $1.82 billion - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego County's agricultural production, $1.82 billion

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The total value of San Diego County's agricultural production last year was $1.82 billion, compared to $1.85 billion in 2013, the county Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures reported Wednesday.

The annual crop report showed the first decline in overall value in six years and only the third since 1996.

"The slight drop in production value comes as no surprise in light of the challenges faced by farmers from the drought and the rising cost of water," said Eric Larson, director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau. "In fact, the change is small enough to be seen as a testament to the resolve of farmers to overcome the water issues."

The total number of acres in production dropped by 12.1 percent, the largest decrease in 18 years, according to the report.

Each of the top three crops -- ornamental trees and shrubs; indoor flowering and foliage plants; and bedding plants, color and herbaceous perennials -- increased in value in 2014, according to the report.

The fourth most valuable crop, avocados, which has been greatly affected by drought and water prices, dropped 22 percent in value.

Wine grape values, which in 2012 saw a huge boost in interest and a 512 percent increase in value, increased by 0.88 percent in 2014 to roughly $6.6 million. However, acres in production jumped 9.6 percent to 923 acres -- capping a 121 percent increase in acreage since 2011.

Cacti and succulents, meanwhile, jumped 64 percent in value, from roughly $26.5 million in 2013 to $43.4 million in 2014.

The report said the county has more farms than any other in the U.S. with 5,732, though the agricultural economy ranks 20th. Nearly 19 percent of the farms are run by women.

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