California strawberries recover from slow start

California strawberries recover from slow start

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California strawberries recover from slow start

After a late start, California strawberries strongly moved into the market and are thriving with good volume and “very good to excellent” quality fruit, according to Jeff Cardinale, communications director of the California Strawberry Commission, based in Watsonville, CA.

On June 16, Cardinale tells that his growers were like virtually all other California commodity groups by facing four-to-six-week harvest delays because of enormous rainfall in the Golden State early in 2023. 

By mid-June Oxnard was wrapping up its spring fresh strawberry deal and Santa Maria was “looking really good” as those growers are shipping in full swing. Watsonville and Salinas are also shipping, but behind peak production by about four weeks. 

Since the last week of April, California has shipped between six million and nine million trays of strawberries per week. Total volume is a little behind that of 2022. Because of acreage destroyed by 2023 rain, this year’s volume won’t catch up with last season but won’t be a significant decrease from 2022. 

Cardinale notes that his industry looks at Mother’s Day weekend sales as a gauge for a season, because that’s when Mexican strawberries generally end, and California is underway and entering peak season. This Mother’s Day was very positive for California shippers because California owned 95 percent of national strawberry sales.  It’s season now looks bright and with California shipping all year round, retailers can expect promotable volume into next year. 

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