Oregon’s nursery industry has reclaimed the No. 1 spot on the state Department of Agriculture’s list of the Top 20 agricultural commodities for 2016, leap-frogging the cattle industry, last year’s leader in production value.
“(The nursery industry) has always historically been number one, and the message is that it’s slowly continued its growth,” Bruce Pokarney, ODA director of communications, said.
A new leader at the top was expected, as the cattle industry “tends to be cyclical,” according to the department. “The strong prices enjoyed in 2014 and 2015 weakened last year.”
At the same time, the hops industry saw an 89 percent increase in production value from 2015 to 2016, pushing it into the top 20 and landing it at No. 15 with $65 million.
“We had more planted, and that is a function of demand,” Pokarney said. “Oregon is really a national leader of microbrews.”
Pokarney estimated 4 million more pounds of hops were grown in 2016 than 2015, and while the number of growers hasn’t increased acreage was up by about 3,000 acres.
The hops market now appears to be stabilizing, and growers don’t expect it to increase at the same rate next year, Michelle Palacios administrator of the Oregon Hop Commission, said.
“I think that Oregon has amazing, diverse specialty crops,” Palacios said, “and with being the second largest hop grower in the U.S., it’s an honor to be included (in the top 20).”
The top 10 commodities are: greenhouse and nursery, cattle and calves, hay, milk, grass seed, potatoes, wheat, pears, wine grapes and onions.
Rounding out the top 20 are: hazelnuts, blueberries, Christmas trees, cherries, hops, apples, dungeness crab, eggs, mint for oil and corn for grain.
“The top 10 list contains the same names as last year with a slightly altered order,” ODA said. “The potato and wheat industries exchanged positions at number 6 and 7, respectively.”
Oregon produces more than 220 agricultural and fishery commodities, of which 17 have a value of at least $50 million, according to ODA.
Greenhouse and nursery products brought in $909 million, an increase of about $15 million from 2015. The cattle industry fell about $213 million, or 23 percent, from the previous year to $701 million, according to the department.
Other industry increases in production value last year were pears at 19 percent, grass seed at 14 percent, hay at 9 percent and potatoes at 6 percent. Wheat saw the biggest decrease in production value at 15 percent, according to ODA.
Oregon is the nation’s leading producer of Christmas trees, hazelnuts, grass seed, blackberries, boysenberries, rhubarb, sugarbeet seed and potted florist azaleas.