The 2017 Census of Agriculture results are out, and Maryland shows its diversity, with poultry, an array of crops, vegetables, and floriculture ranking high for a small state. Maryland is small, but it reaches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains, providing a suitable environment for a variety of agricultural commodities.
More than 70 percent of land in farms is cropland with 439,538 acres of corn for grain; 512,697 acres of soybeans for beans; and 164,831 acres of wheat for grain. Vegetables total 29,339 acres in the state with sweet corn leading the way with over 8,000 acres, followed by watermelon at over 3,700 acres and snap beans at over 3,100 acres. Fruit acreage comes in at nearly 4,200 acres with apples leading the way with nearly 1,800 acres. Grape acreage has increased to nearly 1,200 in 2017 from nearly 700 acres in 2012. Maryland has almost every fruit and vegetable in the Census. The sandy environment near the shoreline is conducive growing condition for watermelons and a lot of the vegetable crops while the higher altitudes provide opportunities for producing apples and grapes.
Also, Maryland has proven to be a great area to grow nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod, which make up over 9 percent of the total value of agriculture products sold.
While Maryland has horses and ponies, cattle and calves, and hogs and pigs, poultry dominates the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The poultry and eggs category tops the total market value in the state and ranks seventh in the nation for the number of broilers sold at 307.7 million. Nearly 48 percent of the market value of Maryland agriculture products sold comes from poultry and eggs.
Maryland, like the nation as a whole, exhibits a diversity of agricultural practices to complement the variety of products. For example, we have 117 farms that in 2017 produced over $30 million in organic products, up about $18.6 million since 2012. We also have 1,193 farms with renewable energy producing systems. The top three systems are solar panels, geo-exchange systems, and wind turbines. For the first time, the census counted 1,962 or almost 16 percent of farms with producers having military service.
And being so close to large population areas is a benefit for direct marketing and agricultural tourism. Maryland has 1,347 farms that sold directly to consumers, which is up from 2012 farms of 1,276. Nearly 300 farms in Maryland have agricultural tourism and recreational services, which accounts for 9 percent of income from farm-related sources in 2017.
So, go out and visit one of the many farms and farm stands open to the public and enjoy some of the family activities to learn where food is grown in the neighborhood.