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Oregon Grown: More variety than you imagine

As Oregon’s economy booms, the Beaver State’s prolific produce industry is following suit. In 2018, Oregon saw unprecedented growth, rising income, and a rock-bottom jobless rate, plummeting to a historic low of 4 percent in June.

Additionally, Oregon’s gross domestic product (GDP) mushroomed by 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, the third highest growth in the nation.

With farms scattered across all of its 36 counties, agriculture is a major economic driver for the state.

“Oregon boasts one of the most diverse agriculture industries in the United States,” said Anne Marie Moss, communications director for the Oregon Farm Bureau, detailing the state’s varied climate, topography, and six distinct agriculture regions, which produce over 220 different agricultural commodities.

Among this bountiful assortment are an array of fresh fruits and vegetables—from apples, blackberries, and pears to onions, snap beans, and sweet corn.

A major onion producer, Oregon ranks third in the nation and is responsible for 19 percent of U.S. production from just under 20,000 acres. The heart of the state’s thriving onion industry rests in Eastern Oregon, namely Malheur, Umatilla, and Morrow Counties. Growers throughout the region harvest red, white, and yellow onions, as well as the less common pearl, heirloom, and Egyptian Walking onions.

Willamette Valley, located south of Portland, is hailed as Oregon Wine Country. In addition to its vineyards, this region produces a variety of berries, sweet cherries, vegetables, and hazelnuts. Tree fruit and potatoes are also grown throughout southern counties in the state.

East of Portland, Wasco and Hood River counties are famous for cherries, apples, and—the state fruit—pears. Oregon ranks second in the nation for pears and is also a significant blueberry supplier. On a smaller scale, state growers also harvest apples, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, and grapes.

Few probably realize its strength in some categories, such as blackberries, boysenberries, and hazelnuts—and Oregon supplies 100 percent of the nation’s production for all three. additionally, it ranks third for sweet cherries, with 3,200 acres in Willamette Valley and 12,300 acres in Mid-Columbia Valley.

Regardless of the crop, farming is a family affair in the Beaver State.

“Nearly 97 percent of Oregon’s farms and ranches, including commercial-scale farms, are family-owned and operated,” Moss said.

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.