By Jade Martinez-Pogue

Noozhawk Staff Writer

Santa Barbara County received 128 percent of normal rainfall in the 2019 crop year, leading to a surge in agricultural production that allowed for a 5.1 percent increase in revenue from 2018.

“Santa Barbara County agriculture has an inspiring story of innovation and resiliency,” Agricultural Commissioner Cathleen Fisher said. “For our farmers and ranchers, innovation and resiliency are more than just words — it’s who they are.”

The county grossed more than $1.6 billion in agricultural sales, about $78 million more than the gross production value in 2018.

Following trends from previous years, strawberries made up the majority of agricultural revenue, totaling 36 percent of crop sales and bringing in more than $571 million of revenue.

Wine grapes brought in $15 million less in 2019 than in 2018, but they still made up 7 percent of sales with $106 million. The top wine crops are pinot noir, chardonnay, syrah, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, merlot, pinot gris, viognier, cabernet franc and white riesling.

Chart contributed

Nursery products and cauliflower each accounted for 6 percent of sales. In 2018, cauliflower was only the sixth-biggest contributor to agricultural sales.

Broccoli and head lettuce together brought in more than $161 million in revenue compared with the combined $155 million in 2018. The commodities each accounted for 5 percent of sales.  

Celery contributed 4 percent to total sales after not being a top crop since 2016. It reeled in more than $56 million, compared with only $40 million in 2018. 

Leaf lettuce followed trends from previous years and made up 4 percent of revenue.

After being in the top five commodities in 2018, cut flowers contributed only 3 percent to total sales in 2019.

Avocado sales plummeted from $52.5 million in 2018 to less than $35 million in 2019, and made up only 2 percent of sales.

About 22 percent of sales were made up from other commodities, including livestock and animal products, raspberries, orchids, blackberries, field and seed, and cabbage.

According to the 2019 agricultural production report, consumer demand for organic products has increased during the past decade. Because of this, the number of organic producers in the county has been increasing. As of 2019, 174 organic farms were registered in Santa Barbara County.

The county exported to 34 countries and shipped 39,535 tons of locally grown produce in 2019. The majority of crops were exported to Canada, which took in 31,383 tons of cucumbers, peppers and strawberries. 

“Our farmers and ranchers continue to produce an astonishing array of products and achieve the highest standards in quality,” Fisher said.

Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue can be reached at