California agriculture statistics to delight, amaze, and amuse

California leads the nation in production of: apricots, asparagus, avocados, lima beans, broccoli, brussel spouts, carrots, cauliflower, dates, eggplant, sweet corn, figs, cut flowers, grapes, alfalfa hay, herbs of all kinds, jojoba of course, kale, kumquats, lemons, lettuce, limes, cantaloupes, onions, parsley, chili peppers, bell peppers, persimmons, pomegranates, raspberries, tangerines, tomatoes, spinach, strawberries, and watercress.

And those are just the competitive categories. 

When it comes to almonds, artichokes, celery, figs, garlic, kiwis, honeydew, nectarines, olives, pistachios, plums, and walnuts, forget it, we’re so far ahead it’s barely worth counting other states: California produces 99% or more of the US total for each. 

On top of that, we’re number two in rice, sweet potatoes, oranges, blueberries, grapefruits, and mushrooms. Arkansas, North Carolina, Florida, Washington, Florida, and Pennsylvania better watch their respective backs. 

Vermont and Wisconsin pride themselves on their dairies, but in production of milk and cream, California is unrivaled: we produce forty one billion pounds of milk and cream a year. (Wisconsin is second, thirty one billion, and third is actually Idaho).

The agricultural statistics are so staggering they please the brain to contemplate: California produces in a single year, for example, a billion pounds of strawberries, three billion pounds of lettuce, five billion pounds of grapes, and eleven billion pounds of tomatoes. We grew ninety two million daisies and seventy five million lilies. Thirty six thousand acres of California are devoted simply to cauliflower. There are in total one thousand, three hundred square miles of California covered in grape vines, and close to two thousand square miles of almond trees, equivalent to an entire Delaware.

Almonds are truly where we dominate: California produces eighty-two percent of all the almonds on planet Earth.  That’s insane for a lot of reasons, one of them being that it takes about a gallon of water to grow a single almond.  Now, some places in California have lots of water: water roars down the Trinity River through the redwoods of far northern California, and over the waterfalls of Yosemite. But some places in California have very little water at all: Death Valley gets about two inches of rain in an entire year. 

Most of the almonds are grown somewhere in between.  The biggest almond growing county is Fresno, which gets about fifteen inches of rain a year on average.  That’s less than half of the US average. The water for all those thirsty almonds is coming from the thin rivers, by aqueduct or it’s pumped out of the ground.  California exports water in the form of delicious almonds and other crops.  That doesn’t really make a lot of sense, condensing our precious water into nuts and shipping it away. But almonds are $5.6 billion business, so that’s what happens.  

(Here’s my source)



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