New York ranked 25th in farm income in 2001, with cash receipts from farming at over $3.4 billion. About 65% came from livestock products, mostly dairy goods. In 2002, the state ranked 2nd in apples, 3rd in the production of corn for silage, 3rd in cauliflower, 3rd in tart cherries, 3rd in snap beans, 7th in onions, and 10th in oats.
Corn was the leading crop for the Indians and for the European settlers of the early colonial period. During the early 1800s, however, wheat was the major crop grown in eastern New York. With the opening of the Erie Canal, western New York (especially the Genesee Valley) became a major wheat-growing center as well. By the late 1850s, when the state's wheat crop began to decline, New York still led the nation in barley, flax, hops, and potato production and was a significant grower of corn and oats. The opening of the railroads took away the state's competitive advantage, but as grain production shifted to the Midwest, the state emerged as a leading supplier of meat and dairy products.
New York remains an important dairy state, but urbanization has reduced its overall agricultural potential. In 1997, 15.6% of the state's land area was devoted to crop growing; in 2002, there were only 37,000 farms, with 7.6 million acres (3.1 million hectares).
The west-central part of the state is the most intensively farmed. Chautauqua County, in the extreme southwest, leads the state in grape production, while Wayne County, along Lake Ontario, leads in apples and cherries. The dairy industry is concentrated in the St. Lawrence Valley; grain growing dominates the plains between Syracuse and Buffalo. Potatoes are grown mostly in Suffolk County, on eastern Long Island.
Leading filed crops in 2002 included Hay, of which 3.7 million tons were produced, worth $374 million; corn, 43.7 million bushels worth $124 million; oats, 3.6 million bushels worth $5.9 million; and wheat, 7.4 million bushels, worth $24.1 million.
Farms in 2002 also produced 138,200 tons of vegetables. Leading vegetable crops were cabbage, onions, sweet corn, and snap beans. State vineyards produced 156,000 tons of grapes for wine and juice in 2002, while the apple crop totaled 650 million lb.