From the Ventura County Star: The special news out of the 2012 Crop & Livestock Report that tracks Ventura County’s nearly $2 billion agriculture industry is that cilantro became a new member of the Top 10 highest value crops.
In a record year for the industry, cilantro, also known as Mexican or Chinese parsley, earned its first-ever spot on the list by generating $23 million in value in 2012, replacing greens such as chard and watercress. The crop’s value increased 30 percent from 2011.
Total crop values for the year rose to $1.96 billion, a 1.6 percent uptick. Except for a slight dip in 2011, the industry has grown steadily from $1.5 billion five years ago. The report focuses on the gross values of crops, not the net return to growers.
“We’re just trying to show how things have changed for agriculture, and how that is likely going to always be the case,” Ventura County’s Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales said in presenting the report to the Board of Supervisors. “In 10 years, it will no doubt be different.”
The 2012 report tells a story about how the increasing values for some crops show that other local industries, such as real estate, are improving, and how changing consumer tastes drive what growers plant.
The rebound of nursery stock, the county’s fourth highest value crop in 2012, is likely due to improving real estate and new construction, Gonzales said, while a jump in kale shows consumers are accepting what traditionally has been a garnish but is now part of supermarket and restaurant salads.
Cilantro, the county’s 10th most valuable crop, is another example of changing consumer tastes, Gonzales said.
George Boskovich, CEO of Boskovich Farms Inc. in Oxnard, said his family business was the state’s first commercial grower and marketer of cilantro when it began experimenting with planting coriander, another name for cilantro, in the 1970s. The business now grows cilantro on 2,000 acres.
“Our value-added cilantro pack is gaining in popularity mainly among our food service customers and will soon be offered to retail customers,” Boskovich said. “Cilantro goes well with our other products and has become an important consolidation product for our customers who want to do one-stop shopping year-round in Oxnard.”
Several of Ventura County’s 10 highest value crops traded places in 2012. Lemons, worth $202 million, took the No. 2 spot from raspberries as sales of the citrus fruit rose 15 percent even as 314 less acres were harvested. Avocados now rank sixth just ahead of tomatoes, positions that were reversed in 2011. And peppers and cut flowers traded places for the eighth and ninth spots, respectively.
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