While the Salinas Valley to the north and Ventura County to the south often get more attention when it comes to produce shipments, the Santa Maria area also has significant volume. But like Salinas, Santa Maria is having shipping issues.
By late March, the incessant rain that pounded the Santa Maria region and most of California this winter seemed to be subsiding, but the effects of the storms will be felt for some time.
In similar fashion to the Salinas Valley, there are going to be shipping gaps this year. The gaps in availability of certain vegetables will continue until the middle of May.
Around 40 different vegetable items, Similar to Salinas, are grown in Santa Maria including organic and conventional iceberg lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, leaf lettuce, spinach, cilantro, parsley, kale, green onions and Brussels sprouts.
Quality problems have hit cauliflower and broccoli due to excessive rains. While drier weather has occurred recently, you should still use caution when loading looking for possible quality issues.
Santa Maria actually stretches about 40 miles from Lompoc in the south to Oceano in the north. Most of the Santa Maria district is located in northern Santa Barbara County with the city and valley of Santa Maria being its epicenter. The most northern reaches of the district is found in San Luis Obispo County. The city of Santa Maria is found about 170 miles north of Los Angeles and 270 miles south of San Francisco. Much closer is Santa Barbara — 60 miles to the south — and San Luis Obispo — 30 miles to the north. The Pacific Ocean is about 15 miles west of Santa Maria. Several major grower-shippers are located in Guadalupe, which also is located between the Pacific Ocean and Santa Maria.
Santa Barbara County’s top 10 crops are strawberries, broccoli, wine grapes, cut flowers, nursery products, head lettuce, cauliflower, raspberries, avocados and celery. In 2015, each of these crops accounted for more than $43 million in sales led by strawberries at $438 million, which far outpaces the second place finisher, which is broccoli at $164 million. Santa Maria Valley strawberry acreage has seen a big increase in the past decade.
Vegetable shipments remain an important part of agriculture representing over 30 percent of revenues at about $540 million in 2015. Staple vegetable crops, including broccoli and lettuce, are the mainstays, but the Santa Maria area growers produce virtually every vegetable shipped from specialty baby vegetables to kale to Swiss chard to brussels sprouts.
Santa Maria, Ventura County and Salinas vegetables – all grossing about $4800 to Atlanta.