Washington state produces a lot of food. It’s grown, harvested, eaten close to home and exported around the world. Nature supports it all by providing clean water, nutrient-rich soils, vital habitat and more. We’ve collected some interesting numbers to give you a flavor of the food nature helps provide us all.
Washington’s $38 billion food and agricultural industry contributes 12 percent to the state’s economy and employs approximately 160,000 people.
Some 300 crops are produced commercially in Washington.
Washington’s top ten agricultural commodities are (in order of value): apples, milk, wheat, potatoes, cattle/calves, hay, nursery/greenhouses, cherries, hops and grapes.
Washington ranks first in the U.S. for production of apples, sweet cherries, pears, red raspberries and hops.
There are about 39,000 farms in Washington.
More than 20 percent of Washington farms are operated by women.
Approximately 100 farmers rent space at Pike Place Market in Seattle.
More than 90 different crops are grown in Skagit County, which produces more tulip, iris, and daffodil bulbs than anywhere else in the U.S.
Yakima County is our state’s leading agricultural county and ranks 12th among all U.S. counties in the value of its agricultural production.
Apples are Washington’s biggest agricultural crop.
10-12 billion apples are handpicked in Washington State each year. This equals more than 100 million 40-pound boxes!
If you put all of the Washington State apples picked in a year side-by-side, they would circle the earth 29 times.
Each Washington apple is picked by hand.
6 out of every 10 apples eaten in the United States are from Washington.
We harvest and eat hundreds of thousands of salmon each year in Washington waters.
Puget Sound and the rivers that flow into it produce more salmon than any other place in our state (including the Columbia River).
Salmon numbers have dropped sharply from what they used to be everywhere in Washington. 18 of our salmon runs are listed as “Threatened” or “Endangered” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Salmon are a vital food for our resident Orca whales, which eat 100-300 pounds of fish a day.
Washington produces more bivalve shellfish than any other state, totaling about 75,000,000 pounds per year and about $100 million in sales.
We harvest around 20 million pounds of Dungeness crabs a year – about half on the coast and half in Puget Sound.
It is estimated that more than 100 million geoduck (pronounced “GOO-ee-duck”) clams live in the mud near the shores of Puget Sound. These large bivalves can live for more than 140 years!
An adult oyster can filter 25 gallons or more of water per day, making our salt water cleaner for everyone.
The Olympia oyster is the only oyster native to Washington. Their numbers are a mere fraction of what they once were.