If you haven’t guessed by now, I love Arizona and I love our state' agriculture. In fact, we had agriculture long before we had statehood; which took place in February of 1912. About 1,000 years ago, a people tribe called the HohoKam supported a thriving farming community through an elaborate network of water canals. So agriculture has always been the natural flow of things in this desert state for an extremely long time and an Arizona agriculture fact not many know about.
A Brief History of Agriculture in Arizona
Agriculture in Arizona really reflects our need to thrive. For the HohoKam people their canal work set the stage for us to bring water to the desert and ensure a productive food supply despite a dry environment. For example, as early as the 1860s, farming 14 miles from Wickenburg near a gold mine, called Vulture Mine, supplied food to the miners and ultimately led to the founding of Phoenix, our state capitol. In the years that followed, dams provided consistent water to farmers, and our natural grasslands drew ranchers to the area.
Without the HohoKam and their complex network of water canals for bringing life to the desert we may never have known this state’s agriculture potential. Certainly, it might have taken longer to realize Arizona’s great farming and ranching potential.
Arizona Agriculture Facts to Cheer About
Today, dairy, ranching, and farming combine to generate the state's second largest source of revenue: $12.4 billion to the state’s economy. Our produce, dairy, and beef help feed the nation. More than 15,000 farms and ranches—a whopping 97% of them family operated—cover the entire state.
Three of Arizona’s “Five Cs” (citrus, cotton, and cattle) arise from agriculture. Nationally, Arizona ranks second in the production of lemons, third in tangerine production. Cotton was briefly our state’s largest resource, and is the reason the City of Goodyear exists.
The Arizona livestock industry continues to boom. In fact, dairy is currently Arizona’s leading agricultural product! In addition, the state’s ranchers produce enough beef annually to feed more than 4.6 million Americans.
There’s more. Yuma is the winter lettuce capital of the world, supplying an estimated 95% of the nation’s head lettuce, leaf lettuce, and romaine lettuce along with a cornucopia of seasonal veggies. In fact, Arizona ranks second in the U.S. in head lettuce, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, cauliflower and broccoli production. Our Arizona apple growers produce close to 20-million-pounds-per-year. After rapid growth in the in 1980s, Arizona’s annual pecan harvest is worth $52 million.
Truly, the following 5 Arizona Agriculture facts are ones you can't live without, at least if you want quality food the often can only be supplied from Arizona in the winter.
- Arizona ranks second in the U.S. in head lettuce, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, cauliflower and broccoli production. Who would guess that we have such a high ranking in these produce areas when you consider we’re a desert state!
- Arizona has 15,400 farms and ranches throughout the state. I love sharing this number because every time I do, everyone’s eyes open wide with wonder.
- Arizona produces enough beef annually to feed over 4.6 million Americans. And, it’s high quality beef!
- Yuma, Arizona is the winter lettuce capital of the world. Yes, we’re growing a lot of garden salad, Caesar salad and all sorts for everyone’s table during the winter.
- Arizona has a $12.4 billion agricultural industry. About every other year this economic number is evaluated and since I’ve been with Arizona Farm Bureau it’s increased by about $3 billion. Our Arizona farmers and ranchers are growing stuff!
Arizona Farm Bureau is dedicated to helping our farmers and ranchers get better and better at what they do so our Arizona families all over the state and throughout America will always have an abundant source of healthy, nutritious food. From our field to your plate.
Do you want to be a part of this exciting organization that helps feed America? You can become part of the Arizona Farm Bureau family online.