California strawberry growers try to catch up - The Packer

California strawberry growers try to catch up

03/27/2013 02:18:00 PM
Tom Burfield

“We anticipate the volume to significantly increase post-Easter,” he said.

Louis Ivanovich, principal in West Lake Fresh, Watsonville, said he anticipates good volume in California as berries rebound from abnormally cold weather.

“April will be a tremendous volume month,” he said. “Plants are well rested and ready to run the race.”

He said he expects Oxnard and Santa Maria to overlap because of the late start in Oxnard, with Santa Maria ramping up with respectable numbers by April 10 and heavy volume by late April or early May.

Although some berries were trickling out of Watsonville as early as the end of February, that district won’t be a factor until around May 10, he said. Watsonville-Salinas typically peaks the first week of June.

Ivanovich said he expects volume to be great for Mother’s Day.

“We’ll have a lot of stemming material,” he said.

Because of heavy post-Easter volume, Dan Crowley, sales manager for Well-Pict Inc., Watsonville, said he hopes retailers will continue to promote strawberries.

“We’re relying heavily on our trading partners to continue to stay aggressive at retail because we will certainly need that environment for the amount of crop that we’re going to have coming off in April.”

He expected to start walking Watsonville fields in late April and said plenty of berries should be available for Mother’s Day and Memorial Day promotions.

Early predictions were that there will be a lot of fruit in the marketplace during the month of April, agreed Cindy Jewell, director of marketing for California Giant Inc., Watsonville.

“Hopefully, winter will end on the East Coast, consumers will come outside, and there will be a lot of demand for strawberries during the month of April,” she said.

Salinas-based Colorful Harvest LLC was shipping out of Oxnard and Santa Maria in early March, said Doug Ranno, chief operating officer and managing partner.

He said the company was running about three weeks behind and should start picking in Watsonville April 8.

He said he expects strong volume in May and June from a “premium-quality berry crop.”


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