Where leafy greens grow in the winter
Soon after the California leafy greens community established the first food safety program of its kind in the U.S., our sister industry in Arizona followed suit forming a nearly identical program known as the Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. Like us, the Arizona LGMA has been in existence for ten years. They are the number two leafy greens producing state in the nation and together our two states grow over 90 percent of the U.S. grown leafy greens.
Arizona is the leading producer of leafy greens during the winter. During the period from late November to mid-March, Arizona supplies 82% of the nation’s lettuce. The majority of Arizona’s leafy greens production is in the Yuma area, which produced nearly 70,000 acres of lettuce in 2012. Imperial County California, right across the Stateline from Yuma, is the second largest winter production area in the U.S. with 41,000 acres of lettuce harvested in 2012.
A new report by the University of Arizona indicates that sales generated by Arizona leafy greens play a significant role in the state’ economy and total $2 billion. This month, the Arizona LGMA will be releasing additional information from this study and well they should – leafy greens production in Arizona is something to be proud of and the AZ LGMA exists to protect this important economic sector in addition to public health.
The report titled Arizona Leafy Greens: Economic Contributions of the Industry Cluster examines 2015 agricultural cash receipts for on-farm production and post-harvest activities. The reports shows that, on average, leafy greens have accounted for 17% of the state’s total ag receipts each years since 2010 and that nearly 27,000 individuals are employed either directly or indirectly by the Arizona leafy greens industry.
The California LGMA joins our sister organization in congratulating leafy greens producers for their contributions to the Arizona economy and to salad plates around the country. Most of us can’t even imagine a winter without salad. In large part, we have the Arizona leafy greens industry to thank for that happy fact.