19 Crops That Are Grown Only in California
These crops aren’t just California grown…they’re grown ONLY in California.
If you’ve spent much time around these parts, you’ve probably heard us recite statistics related to California’s agricultural prowess. But just in case you weren’t paying attention, here’s a brief overview:
California grows upwards of 400 specialty crops
California grows over half of the nation’s fresh produce
California grows ⅔ of U.S. fruit + nuts
BUT…do you know that some crops are grown ONLY in California*? That’s right! There are 19 different fruits, vegetables and nuts that grow exclusively in the Golden State. Let’s take a look!
*This means California grows 99%+ of the available commercially produced crop in the United States. Statics according to the CDFA
What nuts are grown only in California?
Like many of the crops on this list, almonds are finicky. They require mild, wet winters and hot dry summers – and the Golden State fits the bill. California is one of only five places on earth outside of the Mediterranean region where almonds thrive.
What’s in a name? Well, in the case of California walnuts, it’s all semantics. Walnuts were originally known as “Persian walnuts”. When the trees were brought to Britain by the Romans, the Persian variety eventually became known as “English Walnuts”. English walnuts were brought to California by Franciscan monks in the 1770s – but today, they’re known as “California Walnuts”. Whatever you choose to call them, they’re incredibly healthy and delicious.
Pistachios weren’t commercially cultivated in the United States until the 1960’s, but when they hit the scene, they made quite an impression. Today, California farmers are responsible for 99% of the Nation’s pistachios!
What vegetables are grown only in California?
Artichokes are in season year round in California – which is a good thing because they have some seriously fanatical fans. Whether steamed, stuffed, or even baked into cakes, folks do crazy for them!
If you’ve ever had any doubts as to whether farmwork is skilled labor, we’d like to invite you to watch a celery harvest. It’s been compared to “ballet with machetes”. Since Celery is grown and harvested year- round in the Golden State, you’ve got plenty of opportunities.
Is garlic an herb or a vegetable? Although garlic, like herbs, can flavor a variety of dishes, it’s technically a vegetable. Raw garlic has a particularly pungent taste and odor, but roasting the cloves whole imparts a sweeter, buttery flavor – which is why this versatile vegetable is used in everything from pasta to ice cream (no, really…you’ve got to try it).
What dried fruits are grown only in California?
Not all plums are prunes, but all prunes are plums. Make sense? Prunes are simply dried plums, but only one particular type of plum – the Petit d’Agen – is used to produce California prunes.
Central California farmers grow 100% of the Nation’s raisins! Whether dried on the vine or the traditional Thomspon variety, raisins are the perfect on-the-go snack. Raisins also add a subtle touch of sweetness to baked goods…and butter boards!
What canned fruits are grown only in California?
Olives are an integral part of the Mediterranean diet, which supports good health and has even been associated with longevity. They also happen to be naturally gluten free, vegan, Keto and Paleo-friendly – so, ripe olives are easy to incorporate into any specialized meal plan!
Justin Beiber and Lynyrd Skynyrd might wax poetic about Georgia peaches – but California actually grows more peaches than any other state. Our farmers grow virtually all of the Nation’s cling peaches – and 50% of the fresh peaches too.
What fresh fruits are grown only in California?
What’s the difference between a nectarine and a peach? Nectarines are genetically identical to peaches with one exception – nectarines have smooth skin rather than “peach fuzz”.
California farmers grow virtually all of the Nation’s kiwis – but many people don’t even know that kiwi are grown in the Golden State! This fantastic fruit is farmed all throughout California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.
Fresh pomegranates typically make their debut towards the end of September, and stay on shelves through early January. These gorgeous fruits have a tough exterior, but don’t let that intimidate you. Removing the arils is easier than you think – and well worth the effort!
Although honeydew melons are typically considered a fruit, they’re actually a vegetable! Honeydew (and all melons) are closely related to veggies like zucchini, squash, and pumpkins.
Figs (Fresh & Dried)
Like many fruits, figs were first brought to the Golden State by Spanish missionaries. In fact, one of the most popular varieties is called the “Mission Fig”. Today, California is responsible for 98% of the country’s fresh fig crop, and 100% of the nation’s dried figs.
Fresh plums are grown throughout the state, but the majority of these juicy fruits hail from California’s San Joaquin Valley. Plums are in season throughout summer and fall. Use them to make pies, cakes and even sangria!
Virtually all of the Nation’s table grapes are grown in California. While there are 80+ different varieties of grapes grown in the Golden State, most people just refer to them by their colors – red, green, and black!
Which beans and rice are grown only in California?
Sweet rice is grown exclusively in the Golden State, and is sometimes called sticky rice or glutinous rice. It is a medium grain rice with a slightly sweeter taste and a stickier texture. This makes it perfect for sushi rolls and dessert recipes! Sweet rice flour, which is made of finely ground sweet rice, is a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour.
Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are often grown as a rotation crop or cover crop. They help to improve soil health, fix nitrogen and prevent weeds. They’re a delicious addition to soups and stews – and a standout side dish.
Did you know that many California commodities are always in season? Here’s our guide to the fruits, nuts, veggies and more that are always in season – and never out of style!
Learn a little more about how some of your favorite commodities are grown or made!
Article by Hilary Rance.