California strawberry industry rain damages approach US$200M
The onslaught of rain, wind, and floods are approaching $200 million in potential damages to California’s strawberry farms.
The California Strawberry Commission said that while most family farmers are currently cleaning up minor storm damage, some farms have experienced catastrophic conditions. Erosion has washed away an estimated 350 acres.
Another 1,490 acres are awaiting flood waters to recede. In total, 1,840 acres face catastrophic losses that could reach $200 million from crop, property, and equipment damage. The farms at risk for catastrophic losses are the following:
- Santa Cruz & North Monterey Counties (Pajaro River) – 573 acres
- Monterey County (Salinas River) – 467 acres
- Santa Barbara & San Luis Obispo Counties (Santa Maria River) – 500 acres
- Ventura County – 300 acres
Although the economic impact is significant, most strawberry farmers experienced minor storm damage.
“We were fortunate that these storms came at a time when most farms are dormant and thus farm worker jobs have had minimum impact,” said Rick Tomlinson, California Strawberry Commission President. “We are thankful to the farm workers who have returned to work to help with the recovery.”
The rain is a welcome change from the drought for most of the 31,852 strawberry acres in California that experienced minimal damage.
“The rain washes the soil and improves plant health,” Tomlinson said. “As soon as we get a few weeks of sun, the strawberry plants should recover to start harvest in the spring. With improved soil health from the rains, we should have a good season.”
The damage estimates are preliminary, and all farmers have been asked to report damage directly to each county.