Crop Report: A rich bounty

County agricultural value increases by nearly $7 million over last year

San Benito County agriculture had a good year in 2016. Total commodity values for the county’s largest industry increased by nearly $7 million in gross sales over the year before, according to the San Benito County Agricultural Commissioner’s crop report for 2016. The most growth was in vegetable and row crops.

According to the annual tally of county produce, San Benito County remains one of the top five producing counties in the state of spinach, peppers, lettuces and salad mix products. In 2016, the overall value of the county’s agricultural output increased slightly by 1.9 percent from the year before. Total crop value for 2016 was $367,451,250.

San Benito County crops did not stay in the U.S. San Benito County biologists inspected and certified a total of 2,888 agricultural shipments to 64 countries in 2016. The top export country was Canada with 1607 shipments, followed by Mexico (821), Japan (148), Netherlands (78) and Italy (69).  

Wine grapes had a tremendous year, with a 69 percent increase in value over 2015.

Pat Wirz, who owns a 65-acre vineyard in the Cienega Valley, said the year’s bumper crop is because of good rainfall.

“Your crop is made the year before, when the little bunches bloom and the buds are mature for the following year. And we had two pretty good rain years. For the first time in four or five years the quality looks good,” he said.

The moist air does pose its own set of challenges, however.

“Most vineyards had a little more mildew pressure, but we were able to keep it under control,” said Wirz.

As a whole, he said, area growers have experienced one of their better vintages in the last 3 to 4 years.

“The only thing that may affect it is this hot spell,” said Wirz. “But for this time of year it is not that abnormal.”

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