Posted 10:28 p.m.
"Wonderful climate, lots of sunshine, fairly sophisticated growers," says George Frisvold, Ph.D., University of Arizona professor. Those are just a few of the factors that make Yuma’s agricultural industry as successful as it is.
A recent study out of the U of A is painting us a better picture of what that means for our economy.
"Farming is to Yuma what car manufacturing is to Detroit,” said Frisvold, and that may be an understatement.
Agricultural earnings in Yuma are 4.5 times the national average. The industry affects the job market countywide—not just growing and harvesting jobs.
"Everybody who's employed in the ag industry, when they have salaries, they spend on things,” explained Frisvold. "People go to the movies, they buy houses, they buy cars."
Based on doctor Frisvold's study, one in five jobs are indirectly related to the agriculture. That adds up to more than 17,000 jobs.
Even in the face of crop-threatening temperatures, growers say there is still a chance to reap some benefits.
"The temperatures that will affect the cropping patterns here shortly will change the supply of lettuce from an overage to perhaps a shortage," said Kurt Nolte, Ph.D., of the U of A Yuma County Extension.
That’s bad news for the U.S., but good news in Yuma.
"Anytime there is a bump in the price of lettuce, that's good for [our] economy,” said Nolte.
A rise in price this year may actually be beneficial.
"We have to get the cost up or the price up to cover the cost of growing,” said retired farmer Doug Mellon, “and so far [this year] we've not done that."
Especially since a Yuma lettuce plant can produce up to 2 million pounds of the leafy green per day.