Rain slows progress of strawberry crop - The Packer

Rain slows progress of strawberry crop

02/12/2010 01:13:00 PM
Tom Burfield

Growers can apply fungicides to conventional plants to combat the effects of the rain, he said. But the materials used on organic plants were not as effective as conventional remedies.

Rain in Orange County was accompanied by high winds and scattered hail, said Matt Kawamura, partner in Orange County Produce LLC, Irvine.

“It was pretty bad,” he said. “We definitely haven’t seen that much rain in over 10 years.”

Although pickers already were back in the fields, Kawamura said it could take some plants up to three weeks to recover.

The rain pushed back the start of picking in the Santa Maria district a bit.

Corona Marketing expected to start in a small way the first week of February, but president Jose Corona said heavy picking will not get under way until the third week of the month.

Significant volume should be available the first week of March.

Although rain did not cause much damage to fields in Baja California, two major bridges were wiped out, blocking the only road connecting the San Quintin growing area to the U.S. and temporarily preventing product from shipping, said Mark Munger, vice president of marketing for San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce.

The problem was resolved by Jan. 28, however, and shipments were back to normal.

Despite the bad weather, no one expected the plants to suffer permanent damage, and in some ways, the rain was a good thing for drought-stricken Southern California.

“California needs the rain,” Lindgren said.

“The rain only messes up the immediate red (strawberries),” Cook said. “It doesn’t really hurt the plant.”

The rain actually leeches impurities out of the soil and helps the plants in the long run, said Paul Cracknell, vice president and general manager for the southern region for Watsonville-based Driscoll Strawberry Associates.

When it rains, some fruit has to be thrown out or sent to the juice market, Widerburg said.
But product that is packed is good quality.

“This is a very early event,” Nahas added. “We still have ample time to have a good season.”

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