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Home Grown: Winter leafy greens are a billion dollar industry

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CBS 13's April Hettinger dives into the county's economic contenders

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The Desert Southwest is approaching a time of year when leafy greens breathe new life into the economy, something the community needs this year more than ever.

November is a significant month in Arizona because it kicks off the 6-month-long winter lettuce harvest season which is the driving force of yuma's economy.

John Boelts, a farmer with Desert Premium Farms says it always puts a smile on their when they can load up boxes of healthy lettuce.

"We're glad to celebrate leafy greens month here in Arizona, and leafy greens is a big business," Boelts explained. "You know, the vegetable production business here in Yuma County, if you take in all the other vegetables beyond leafy greens, is a several billion dollar business every year of economic impacts."

But the winter lettuce industry takes most of the credit.

"We know right here in the Yuma community, the direct impacts are probably just over a billion dollars," Boelts said.

And that's just from leafy greens alone.

An increase in farmers is also what kick starts the economy because harvesting leafy greens is labor intensive and requires precision.

"Leafy greens are very tender and need to be handled with care, so that takes expert hands, and we have a lot of those here in Yuma," Boelts stated.

Other industries that drive Yuma's economy are tourism and the military bases, but those are incomparable with what agriculture contributes.

"If you take all those industries together, they still don't equal the total of what agriculture's impact is here and the main driver of agriculture's impact in the economy is, of course, the leafy greens business," Boelts explained.

This year's harvest started a few days ago and will continue the economic momentum through early April.

For more information on food safety and leafy greens resources, visit Arizona Leafy Greens.

Local News / News / Yuma County
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April Hettinger

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