In 2016, 818.7 million broilers were raised in North Carolina, and they are the state’s top agricultural commodity. North Carolina ranks fourth in the nation in broiler production. Broilers generated $3.1 billion in annual cash receipts.
North Carolina’s pork industry employs more than 46,000 people throughout the pork production, processing and distribution chain. The state’s farmers raised approximately 9.3 million hogs in 2016, which is 13 percent of the nation’s total inventory. Hogs brought the state $2.1 billion in annual cash receipts.
North Carolina is the second-largest turkey-producing state in the nation, with farmers across the state raising 33.5 million turkeys in 2016. Turkeys brought in $993.4 million in annual cash receipts.
Tobacco has long been an important cash crop in North Carolina, thanks to the state’s dry, sandy soil that’s perfect for the crop. North Carolina continues to be a major tobacco producer, with some 331.8 million pounds of tobacco produced in the state in 2016. Tobacco generated $668.6 million in annual cash receipts.
Covering 1.6 million acres in an average year, soybeans have the biggest footprint of any crop in North Carolina. Although most of North Carolina’s soybean acres are in the eastern part of the state in the Coastal Plain, the crop is found in each of the state’s 100 counties. Soybeans brought the state $543.2 million in annual cash receipts.
6. Chicken Eggs
North Carolina has around 15.1 million birds that lay about 3.7 billion table and hatching eggs, averaging 10.1 million per day. Of the total produced, table eggs account for 2 billion or 5.5 million per day. Chicken eggs brought in $444 million in annual cash receipts.
Most of North Carolina’s corn is grown in the Coastal Plain due to its rich soil. In 2016, total corn production in the state was 121 million bushels, which was 47 percent higher than the previous year’s total. Corn generated $429.6 million in annual cash receipts.
8. Sweet Potatoes
Since 1971, North Carolina has ranked as the No. 1 sweet potato-producing state in the U.S. due to its hot, moist climate and rich, fertile soil. The state’s growers harvested 95,000 acres of sweet potatoes in 2016, putting production at 17 million hundredweight – that’s 5 percent more than in 2015. Sweet potatoes brought the state $342 million in annual cash receipts.
9. Cattle and Calves
In 2016, North Carolina was home to 370,000 beef cattle. The state ranks 24th in the U.S. in beef cattle inventory. Cattle and calves brought in $255.3 million in annual cash receipts.
10. Dairy Products
In 2016, North Carolina had approximately 45,000 milk cows that produced 965 million pounds, or 112 million gallons, of milk. The same year, Iredell County was the state’s top milk-producing county, generating 279 million pounds of milk. Milk generated $164.2 million in annual cash receipts.