GEOGRAPHY: Yuma County, in southwest Arizona, encompasses approximately 5,561 square miles of desert interspersed with rugged mountains. An abundance of arable land in valley regions, coupled with a warm, dry climate and ample surface water, results in a thriving agricultural business. There are 238,900 acres of farm land harvested in Yuma County. The Colorado River is the source of irrigation water for the Yuma Mesa and surrounding valleys. Yuma County diverts 1.2 million acre feet of Colorado River water per year, accounting for over one-third of the 2.8 million acre feet of Colorado River water allotted for Arizona. The county agricultural water use totals 920,000 acre feet per year. Crops grown east of the Wellton-Mohawk project and east of San Luis are irrigated from wells. Federal and State governments own 89% of the county’s total land and 11% is privately owned.
CLIMATE: Average length of growing season (days above 32° F minimum) is 340 days at the Yuma Mesa Ag Center and 350 days at the Yuma Valley Ag Center. Some areas are almost frost-free. Sunshine averages 91.2% of possible time with the average annual high temperature of 87.9°F and the average annual low temperature of 60.5°F with an average monthly temperature of 73.8°F. Average yearly rainfall in Yuma County is 3.76 inches.
AGRICULTURE: The value of crops, fruits and vegetables produced on Yuma County farms and ranches was $1,224,296,000 in 2002. The value of all agriculture commodities produced in Yuma was over $1.3 billion in 2002.
Principal field crops produced are grain, hay and cotton. Vegetable crops continue to be increasingly important and generated over $1.07 billion in 2002, the highest returns for any commodity group. Lettuce was the principal vegetable crop with supplies available from mid November into April, and grossing over 89% of the vegetable income. Citrus fruit grossed almost $45.7 million in 2002, with lemons as the major crop. Seed crops are important with more than 4,500 acres grown, grossing over $12.6 million.
Sales of fat cattle is the county’s leading livestock operation. Most of the money generated by the livestock industry is from cattle on feed. Sheep graze alfalfa fields from late fall through winter. Figures on gross income from livestock indicate over 98,000 cattle on feed and 22,000 sheep and lambs, ranking third in Arizona, valued at over $79.1 million.
The 1997 farm census indicates 465 farms averaging 511 acres per farm. The Yuma Agribusiness profile published on 2/90 by the Arizona Department of Commerce indicates that 211 agricultural related businesses exist in Yuma County. Ag employment peeks in December. In 1996, agriculture employed 45,984 workers.
Prepared by Barry Tickes and Mohammed Zerkoune, Extension Agents, Agriculture and Barry Bequette, Extension Director using Arizona Crop & Livestock Reporting Service 2002 Arizona Agricultural Statistics and other sources.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, James A. Christenson, Director Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The University of Arizona.
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Information provided by:
Barry Bequette, firstname.lastname@example.org Extension Agent, Urban Horticulture
Barry Tickes, email@example.com Extension Agent, Yuma County
Mohammed Zerkoune, firstname.lastname@example.org Extension Agent, Agriculture
University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
Material written November 2003.
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