There’s a new king – crop-wise – in San Diego County, “Ornamental Trees and Shrubs,” according to the annual crop report put out by the San Diego County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures.

Since 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president and the average cost of a new house was less than $100,000, “Indoor Flowering Plants and Foliage” has been San Diego County’s number-one valued crop. But it was edged out in 2009 by Ornamental Trees and Shrubs, which, county officials said, could indicate a shift by local growers away from operating expensive greenhouses to less-costly outdoor nurseries.

The new crop report also showed that San Diego County’s agriculture industry remained steady in 2009 despite the ongoing recession, continued water-supply concerns and a record number of pest-related quarantines. Overall, the industry’s value topped $1.548 billion in 2009, a decrease of roughly ¼ of 1 percent, .26 percent, from 2008. By contrast, California’s agriculture industry suffered a 9 percent decrease in value in 2009.

“Growing in San Diego County has always been about adjusting, said County Agriculture Commissioner Bob Atkins, “to drought, freeze, fires, economy, pests and diseases. It’s good to see that growing in San Diego is still economically viable.”

Meanwhile, Agriculture, Weights and Measures department officials said the County’s new “detector dog” team could help reduce the number of pest-related quarantines local growers have endured in recent years. The County introduced “Friday,” a black Labrador trained to sniff out agricultural pests in packages, as its newest agricultural inspector in May 2009. The County added a second dog, “Drake,” this year. The detector dog teams intercepted 575 unmarked parcels in 2009.

Top 10 Crops in County



  1. Ornamental Trees and Shrubs


  1. Indoor Flowering & Foliage Plants


  1. Bedding Plants, Color


  1. Avocados


  1. Tomatoes


  1. Lemons


  1. Cactus & Succulents


  1. Herbaceous Perennials


  1. Herbs


  1. Poinsettia


2009 Crop Statistic and Annual Report Highlights

  • San Diego County has 6,687 farms, more than any other county in the United States. Sixty Eight percent of those are one to nine acres in size.
  • Nearly 27 percent of all San Diego County farms are operated by women.
  • Statewide, San Diego County is in the top five counties for producing cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, boysenberries and strawberries, grapefruit, Valencia oranges, tangelos and tangerines, honey and eggs.
  • San Diego County has the largest community of organic growers in the state and nation, with 374 farms growing more than 175 crops.