Albert Einstein once asked, “A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?” Data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture suggest that Einstein would have been smart to set up his table and chair in the state of Washington as we are the leading producer of several commodities for his bowl and table.
“It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man,” said Henry David Thoreau. Census history repeated itself for Washington’s No.1 fruit crop. The 2017 results show 179,899 bearing and non-bearing acres of apples here. That is 47 percent of the acreage in the United States.
Actress Sissy Spacek stated, “For me, life is a bowl of cherries.” Washington farms are the leading U.S. producer of sweet cherries with 42,010 acres reported in the latest census. Washington accounts for 40 percent of all U.S. sweet cherry acreage.
English poet, John Dryden, eloquently remarked, “When bounteous autumn rears her head, he joys to pull the ripened pear.” In 2017, Washington farms joyfully harvested pears from 20,033 bearing acres. Pears are yet another fruit crop that Washington leads the country.
One could imagine Einstein playing his violin and eating Washington fruit, but may I suggest adding two other items for his table that Washington also leads?
First is hops. The census said the 2017 acreage of this beer flavoring agent increased 72 percent from 2012 to total 38,679 acres. Washington accounted for 65 percent of U.S. harvested acreage in 2017. “Hops are a wicked and pernicious weed,” said Henry VIII of England. Perhaps if King Henry had spent time in Washington’s Yakima Valley during hop harvest he wouldn’t sound so bitter.
The last fact and quotable No.1 commodity in Washington is spearmint. Waverly Lewis Root said, “It is the destiny of mint to be crushed.” Harvested acreage of spearmint for oil in Washington during 2017 was 14,549 acres. That is an aromatic and fresh 62 percent of U.S. acreage.