Conditions optimal for Southern California strawberry crop - The Packer

Conditions optimal for Southern California strawberry crop

02/10/2012 11:40:00 AM
Tom Burfield

“The stands look good, the plants look very good and there were no problems this year with the supply of plants from the nursery, as there has been in the past,” Shiffman said.

Boskovich Farms Inc. in Oxnard was picking four to five times a week by late January, said Russ Widerburg, sales manager.

The company was ahead of last year volume-wise because of last season’s rain setbacks and was packing 15- to 18-count packages of berries of “very nice size and quality.”

Similarly, David Cook, sales manager for Deardorff Family Farms in Oxnard said “Everything looks good,” in early February.

Cook said he was looking forward to shipping a lot of stems for Valentine’s Day.

“The only thing that throws a monkey wrench in the deal is rain sometimes,” he said. “If you get a lot of rain, your plans can go out the window.”

Showers were falling on the area Feb. 7, but no major disruptions were expected.

As of early February, rainfall was only about one-half of normal in the Oxnard area.

In Orange County, Orange County Produce LLC, Irvine, Calif., started picking in December and was on schedule if not ahead of schedule by early February, said partner Matt Kawamura.

Quality was “really nice so far,” he said, and volume was up slightly.

San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, which sources some of its berries from Baja California and Central Mexico, was running a couple of weeks behind because of cool, dry weather, said John King, vice president of sales.

The delayed production, however, should result in strong plants and “big gorgeous berries.”

“The future is looking very bright as far as strawberry quality,” added Mark Munger, vice president of marketing.

San Diego-based Expo Fresh LLC got its start in Baja California in mid-November, earlier than usual because of good growing conditions, said Bob Schachtel, sales manager.

In Santa Maria, frost threw a curveball at Jose Corona, president of Corona Marketing Co.

Corona planned to start picking small pallet quantities in late January, but two consecutive nights with temperatures in the 20s sparked a setback.

“We had a little bit of bloom on the crop, too, so it’s basically going to set us back three weeks,” he said.

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