Washington No. 1 in juice grapes, mint, pears

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KENNEWICK (AP) — Washington is ranked No. 1 in the United States for growing juice grapes, mint and pears. And state farmers are the second best producers of onions, nectarines, potatoes, sweet corn and asparagus.

The Kennewick area is home to some of the nation’s other crops, including hops, spearmint oil, sweet cherries and raspberries, The Tri-City Herald reported.

Some crops, such as Washington wine grapes, get their share of the limelight. But the others are also important to the region’s economy but aren’t as well known.

The director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture says that with about 300 crops, Washington has some of the nation’s most diverse agriculture.

As a matter of fact, Dan Newhouse says aerospace and agriculture make almost an identical contribution to the state economy. But unlike the aerospace industry, the state’s 39,500 farms are spread out among every county, Newhouse said.

Agriculture’s impact isn’t restricted to crops; it also includes processing, transportation and other related activities.

Agriculture contributes about $40 billion to the state’s economy each year, he said. Of that, crop production is about $8 billion and food processing is $12 billion.

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