Hoy Carman, an agricultural economist at the University of California-Davis, says the California nursery industry is down 17.5 percent in sales for the 2008-09 period, marking the state’s first year-to-year sales decline since 1993.
According to Carman, the California nursery industry made $4 billion in sales for 2007-08. The industry made a combined $3.3 billion during 2008-09. Carman cites the homebuilding collapse, recession, drought and other factors that ultimately reduced annual sales of nursery products by California nurseries.
The year-to-year decline broke a 15-year record of uninterrupted sales growth dating back to 1993.
California retail sales of lawn and garden products, including nursery items, also declined 12 percent. Nursery production and retailing lost an estimated 25,492 jobs in 2008-2009, employing 192,065 Californians compared to 217,557 in 2007-2008.
Landscapers, businesses, municipalities and homeowners all reduced their spending on nursery products in response to lack of new construction, sharply reduced home values, loss of jobs, rising unemployment and reduced incomes, according to Carman. Regulatory actions and invasive pest quarantines were also factors in the declines for nurseries.
“California nurseries’ share of agricultural output for California dropped from 12.5 percent to 9.1 percent of the total for all agricultural commodities, as a result of a nearly perfect storm of recessionary pressures, natural events and adverse court decisions that blocked water deliveries to growers and urban nursery customers alike,” says Robert Dolezal, executive vice president for the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers. “Now, we begin the long process of rebuilding our lost production and sales as the economy starts to turn around and the drought’s impact lessens.”
Carman’s report is the latest in a series of previous annual studies of California’s nursery and floral sector. Nursery and floral crops each typically rank within the top 10 California crops. Combined nursery and floriculture ranked second overall in 2008-2009, exceeded only by milk and cream sales.