Slightly earlier than last year:

California strawberry production off and running

Fresh strawberry production in California is off to a faster start than last year as the sector gears up for its peak late-spring and early-summer season.

As of March 24, crews had harvested nearly 11.88 million flats, according to the California Strawberry Commission. Most of that picking has occurred in the Oxnard area, where just over 9 million crates had been produced.

So far, Santa Maria has produced about 2.4 million flats of berries (just a start, as some 66.8 million flats came from that region in 2017) while the Watsonville and Salinas areas have just gotten started with 95,000 flats. The northern region produced 102 million flats last year.

Slow starts to the year don’t worry growers. Production in both 2016 and 2017 went on to post records after lagging because of winter rains. Last year’s total of 206 million flats was considerably better than the 196.8 million brought in from fields in 2016, which was a record at the time as well. says a big reason for the increases is that growers have been switching to new, higher-yielding varieties while some are also planting more strawberries in the summer for fall production.

Growers expect to plant 11,250 hectares this year state-wide, down from the 13,600 hectares in 2014. They are projected to plant 2,400 hectares in the summer for fall production, up from the 2,140 hectares planted in the summer of 2014.

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