Based on pending applications with the county, cannabis farmers are seeking permission to legally grow marijuana on roughly 40 acres of land in the unincorporated area next year. More applications are coming in daily.
Linegar estimated the county may ultimately approve about 200 acres of outdoor cultivation in the coming years.
To compare, vineyards cover about 60,000 acres of Sonoma County land, producing a grape harvest worth $581 million last year.
But legal cannabis is the county’s most lucrative crop, per acre. Depending on the size and quality of the harvest, an acre of Sonoma County grapes is currently worth about $9,764, on average, Linegar said. An acre of cannabis is worth about $1.7 million, based on industry standards for yield and the current wholesale value of marijuana, about $500 a pound.
While much cannabis is grown year-round indoors under artificial lights — a process that allows growers to harvest three to four crops a year — the fall harvest of the region’s outdoor crop is the culmination of a process that starts around June.