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California Asparagus

Asparagus often originates in maritime habitats and thrives in soils that are too saline for normal weeds to grow. The first documented production of asparagus in California dates back to 1852. China is the world's largest producer of asparagus followed by Peru and Mexico. U.S. production is concentrated in California, Michigan, and Washington. California is the nation's sole exporter of  artichokes.

There are approximately 250 asparagus growers in California, which produces more than 70 percent of the nation’s fresh market asparagus. 

Asparagus has been used as a vegetable owing to its distinct flavor, and in medicine due to its diuretic properties. According to the National Cancer Institute, asparagus is the highest tested food containing glutathione, one of the body's most potent cancer fighters.

Water makes up 93% of asparagus's composition. Asparagus is low in calories and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fibre, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, and selenium, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.

The onset of the asparagus urine smell can be detectable 15 to 30 minutes after ingestion and subsides in approximately 4 hours. Compounds in asparagus are metabolized to yield ammonia and  sulfur-containing  methanethiol and dimethyl sulfide.

 California is the nation's sole exporter of many agricultural commodities, supplying 99 percent or more of the following:
almonds, artichokes, dates, dried plums, figs, garlic, kiwifruit, olives and olive oil, pistachios, raisins, table grapes, and walnuts.

Up 2.2 percent from the year before, the value of California's
agricultural exports has grown by 83% over the past 10 years

California remains the national leader in agricultural production and exports. In 2017, California farms and ranches collected over $50 billion in cash receipts for their output, an increase of almost 6 percent compared to 2016. Exports of our state's agricultural goods amounted
to more than $20.5 billion, a slight increase over the year before and
almost double the amount 10 years ago.

Crops that realized decreased production included
asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, carrots,
celery, leaf lettuce, head lettuce, cantaloupe melons,
honeydew melons, mushrooms, bell peppers, chili
peppers, snap beans, spinach, squash, processing
tomatoes, and fresh market tomatoes.

2017-2018
Notable Decreases in California Production
Asparagus -41% still leads nation in production
Raspberries, Blackberries -47%
Avocados -44%
Apricots -34%
Pistachios -33%

Up
Dried Plums
Sweet Cherries
Pumpkins
Potatoes

Asparagus has only 22.4% CA share of US receipts
Growing season is mid-February through June
Acreage for growing has decreased nearly 50% from 15,000 acres in 2008 to 8,000 in 2018
Loss of 31.5% export value recently compared to previous year
Export value down in Canada but up in Australia


Top 20 Commodities rounded (value rounded off)

Milk and Cream $6.56 billion
Grapes $5.79 billion
Almonds (shelled) $5.6 billion
Berries, All Strawberries $3.1 billion
Cattle and Calves $2.6 billion
Lettuce, All $2.4 billion
Walnuts $1.59 billion
Tomatoes, All $1.05 billion
Pistachios $1.01 billion
Broilers $939.4 million
Oranges, All $933.7 million
Broccoli $850.1 million
Hay, All $758.1 million
Rice $677.9 million
Carrots, All $615.2
Lemons $608.1
Tangerines $535.3
Cotton, All $475.3 million
Raspberries $452.4 million
Garlic $390 million

Top 10 Agricultural Counties
#1 Kern $7.25 billion Grapes (Table), Almonds, Milk, Pistachios
  (
#2 Tulare $7.04 billion Milk, Grapes (Table), Cattle & Calves, Oranges
#3 Fresno $7,02 billion Almonds, Poultry, Pistachios, Milk
#4 Monterey $4.4 billion Strawberries, Lettuce, Broccoli, Grapes (Wine)
#5 Stanislaus $3.65 billion Almonds, Milk, Chickens, Nursery (Fruit/Nut, non-bearing)
#6 Merced $3.4 billion Milk, Almonds, Chickens, Cattle & Calves
#7 San Joaquin $2.5 billion Grapes (Wine), Milk, Almonds, Walnuts
#8 Ventura $2.1 billion Strawberries, Lemons, Celery, Raspberries
#9 Kings $2.06 billion Milk, Cotton (Pima), Cattle & Calves, Almonds
#10 Imperial $2.06 billion Cattle & Calves, Lettuce, Hay (Alfalfa), Broccoli

Bottom 10 Agriculture Counties (Modoc County excluded due to lack of report filing, thus 57 counties ranked instead of California's 58 counties)
48 Tuolumne
49 Mono
50 Plumas
51 Calaveras
52 Nevada
53 Inyo
54 Sierra
55 Alpine
56 Trinity
57 San Francisco

If you love asparagus, you'll also want to check out California apples and California almonds.

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