A farmer moves through icy fields and clouds of mist while making his way to a line of irrigation wheels located at the foothills of the Blue Mountains.
Photo by Jeff Horner.
OLYMPIA — Washington’s farmers and ranchers set records for production last year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the total market value of crops and livestock totaled $9.89 billion, a 6 percent increase from 2011.
The top 15
Washington state’s top 15 agricultural commodities and value of production for 2012
• Apples — $2.25 billion
• Wheat — $1.18 billion
• Milk — $1.16 billion
• Potatoes — $700 million
• Hay — $679 million
• Cattle and calves — $623 million
• Cherries, all — $449 million
• Nursery and greenhouse products — $305 million
• Grapes, all — $236 million
• Pears, all — $206 million
• Onions, all — $184 million
• Corn for grain — $167 million
• Hops — $155 million
• Eggs — $137 million
• Dry edible beans — $177 million
Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Bud Hover notes that apples climbed 16 percent to $2.25 billion — the first commodity in the state to go over the $2 billion mark.
Record high values of production were set for six of the top twenty Washington commodities, including apples, wheat, cattle and calves, grapes, pears, and dry edible beans. Table grapes and wine grapes were counted together.
Commodities that saw significant gains in value over 2011 included dry edible beans, which increased 79 percent; barley, up 69 percent: canola, up 64 percent; and onions, up 51 percent.
Crops that declined in value in 2012 were blueberries, down 30 percent from a record high value in 2011, and wrinkled seed peas, down 28 percent.
Apples had a value per harvested acre in 2012 at $15,417, followed by all cherries at $14,681. Blueberries had a value per harvested acre of $10,675.
In a release, Hover said that overall the new figures were good news for Washington agriculture.
“Washington’s farmers and farm workers for several years now have managed to keep boosting the value of our state’s harvests,” Hover said. “We also set record employment and sales figures in the food processing industry. There’s no question that all of this shows just how important agriculture is to our state’s economy.”