Rancho Santa fe's largest citrus grower, Del Dios Ranch, harvesting oranges this week
Orange picking was in full swing Friday at Del Dios Ranch, the largest citrus operation at Rancho Santa Fe at the corner of Del Dios Highway and El Camino Del Norte.
Rancho Santa Fe has more than 400 acres of oranges and lemons, many of them managed by Chuck Badger Jr. and R.E. Badger & Son, Co. R.E. Badger was a Rancho Santa Fe founding father, managing most of the first area orchards beginning in 1922. He was president of the San Diego County Farm Bureau from 1936-1937. Chuck Badger held the prestigious Farm Bureau presidency in 2007-2008.
According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service:
- The 92067 Zip code contains 10 farms with more than $50,000 in sales from fruit and nut trees. another 129 operations were classified as not specified.
- By far the norm in the area, 119 orchards were smaller than 15 acres;
- 11 orchards were 15-to-99 acres;
- Del Dios Ranch was 100 acres.
Citrus is a $1.5 billion industry -- with a total estimated economic impact around $5 billion -- in San Diego County. It is the county's fifth largest industry, ranking behind only manufacturing, tourism, defense and biotechnology.
Lovers of navel oranges will be pleased to learn there should be more of their favorite fruit this year, according to the California Farm Bureau.
A new crop estimate says California farmers will harvest 93 million cartons' full of navel oranges this season, up 13 percent from the previous year.
Some other fun facts about county farming, such as these revealed in the 2009 annual crop report, a mandatory requirement for each county, based on voluntary reporting by local growers:
- San Diego County has 6,687 farms, more than any other county in the United States. Sixty Eight percent of those are one to nine acres in size.
- Nearly 27 percent of all San Diego County farms are operated by women.
- Statewide, San Diego County is in the top five counties for producing cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, boysenberries and strawberries, grapefruit, Valencia oranges, tangelos and tangerines, honey and eggs.
- San Diego County has the largest community of organic growers in the state and nation, with 374 farms growing more than 175 crops.
Growing in San Diego County has always been about adjusting, said County Agriculture Commissioner Bob Atkins, “to drought, freeze, fires, economy, pests and diseases. It’s good to see that growing in San Diego is still economically viable.
This past year, San Diego County farmers certainly worked smarter to solve struggles of limited resources, competition and unpredictable forces of nature using innovation and determination," Atkins said in the 2009 San Diego County Crop Report (See attached pdf file for full report.)
"Additionally, San Diego County had an unprecedented ﬁve Mediterranean fruit ﬂy quarantines. North County farmers were especially hard hit with the Fallbrook and Escondido area quarantines. Quarantines for Diaprepes root weevil (rescinded) and Asian citrus psyllid (still active) also affected local farmers.
Given all these challenges, a decrease of only 0.26% in the value of agriculture is admirable. In fact, since 2000, when the total crop value was $1,253,884,664, San Diego County agriculture has experienced nearly a 24% increase in crop value."
The full report provides a state-of-the-farming-industry snapshot, including lots of great information about agricultural education, programs, activities, personnel and contact information.