Organic production in Monterey County remains a considerable economic force, in spite of the relatively small number of organic producers. Gross sales exceeded $214 million as the number of organic producers continues to rise.

Monterey’s organic acreage continues to increase yearly, up now to more than 33,000 acres. Top organic commodities produced in the county include strawberry, leaf lettuce, raspberry, spinach, salad mixes, and broccoli.

Notable in 2013:

  • Strawberry value grew 11 percent to more than $869.4 million, making it Monterey County’s Top Crop in 2013;
  • Broccoli value on 65,577 acres grew 35 percent to nearly $427 million. The average price of fresh broccoli to the grower increased more than $183 per ton, according to the crop report;
  • Spinach and cauliflower traded spots on the Top-10 list. At number 10, the value of spinach was more than $122.6 million;
  • Cauliflower’s value rose 48 percent to $163.3 million, boosted by a dramatic increase in price – up from an average $633 per ton to $901 per ton. Total acreage changed little;
  • Head lettuce was up 16 percent in value to $550.6 million;
  • Dry onions were up 57 percent in value to $15.9 million;
  • The value of nursery production was more than $312.3 million; and,
  • Cut flowers and cut foliage production was valued at more than $41 million, down slightly from the previous year.

Lettuce falls into two main categories in the crop report: leaf and head. At a combined value of $1.2 billion, total lettuce production exceeded strawberries. Lettuce production is further broken down to include head lettuce categories of spring, summer and fall, naked pack, and wrapped pack. Leaf lettuce sub categories include butter, endive, green, red, romaine, and bulk.

One dim spot in the report was the decrease in the value of leaf lettuce as county officials continue to define production data sources, Lauritzen said.

Other notable decreases were seen in livestock and field crops that depend on rainfall, Lauritzen continued. Total combined losses, when compared to the previous year’s crop report, totaled more than $10.3 million.