The California Association of Nurserymen announced that the nursery industry’s crop value increased $300 million in 1999/2000. The industry’s crop value is nearly $3 billion and represents the state’s third-largest crop. Annual market revenues for the nursery crop bring the total value of the industry in California to $8 billion.
The report comes at a time when the nursery industry is battling the glassy-winged sharpshooter. While the focus has been on the grape and wine industries, this year alone California’s nurseries have lost over $10 million in sales and laid off hundreds due to halted wholesale plant shipments from Southern California. Future losses threaten the remaining 130,000 Californians employed by the industry.
“This crop report demonstrates just how valuable our industry is to California’s economy,” said Elaine Thompson, CEO of the California Association of Nurserymen. “While the state focuses on protecting California’s valuable winegrape industry, the economic impact on the state’s nurseries is already well into the millions. The nursery industry is alarmed by the threat this pest poses to the winegrape industry, but we must not destroy one important industry to protect another.”
Widespread economic costs are expected to increase throughout the summer, the glassy-winged sharpshooter’s most active period, and eventually begin to impact Northern California retail nurseries, which receive most of their stock from Southern California. There is a growing concern that these nurseries, fearful of possible infestation, will refuse stock from infested counties. This could drive up costs as nurseries search for other, more distant suppliers.
The state’s nursery industry, one of the first industries to identify the problem that this pest poses, has taken aggressive steps to contain the glassy-winged sharpshooter. Nurseries and agricultural commissioners in infested counties are inspecting and spraying their stock prior to shipping to non-infested counties, where agricultural commissioners are contacted upon arrival of shipments. Since 1997, the California Association of Nurserymen has contributed heavily to glassy-winged sharpshooter research aimed at containing and eradicating the pest.