twitter icon facebook icon youtube icon instagram icon

Stories from the valley

Unless you look for it – you wouldn’t see it – but it’s big!

Contributed by Tim Johnson

I spent a lot of time looking out of the window on the drive to drop my daughter off at college for the first time. Especially when you’re in the back seat (she wanted to be with mom in the front). Especially when it’s your last kid out of the house.

The drive was north, through the Sacramento Valley. Past the rice harvest and the migrating ducks. Past the almonds, walnuts and olives. We were headed to Portland.

, Tuesday, January 21, 2014. Photo Brian Baer

Here in California we often think of ourselves and an Ag state and we are – fully $44 billion in revenue to farmers and 44 million acres under production.

What about Oregon? As my wife asked, “what do they farm here?”

Looking out the window it was easy to miss. While you could tell someone was farming, you were not sure what crop. It looked like a mowed lawn. In fact it was, but I’ll come back to that!

A look under the statistics hood and you find that 16.5 million acres are farmed in Oregon at a value in excess of $5 billion. Who knew?

The fields out the car window were in grass seed production. That’s right, seeds to grow lawns. Oregon is huge in this crop and the largest producer of grass seed in the U.S. The same goes for hazel nuts, blackberries and raspberries. Ag is big in Oregon.

Ag is also easy to miss here in the Sacramento Valley. A few crops are recognizable like almonds, walnuts and tomatoes. If you’ve read some blogs you would know about rice and wheat. But there is much more.

The Sacramento Valley is also big in seed production – seeds for watermelons, sunflowers, cucumbers and cilantro. Did you know we grow garlic here? Honeybees are huge, with $21 million of the insects produced in Glenn County for other farmers.

Bees Williams 11114

We are also known for beans – dry beans like kidney, great white northern, black and pink to name a few. I predict this will become an even bigger crop in years to come as people re-discover the foods of our grandparents.

While agriculture in Oregon and California are different in the crops we grow, the view out the car window is much the same. It is easy to miss and it’s huge!