Despite some wet winter weather, grower-shippers say supplies of California strawberries should be ample for Easter promotions.
A storm that swept through the state March 11 didn’t do much to hamper strawberry production in the Oxnard district, which is producing most of the early spring berries, Craig Moriyama, director of berry operations for Salinas, Calif.-based Naturipe Berry Growers, said March 14.
Rain is a “short term deal,” he said, and affects primarily ripe fruit.
“Temporarily, your numbers will be down,” he said, “but they’re going to spike back up again by the end of the week.”
The storm dumped two-tenths of an inch of rain on Oxnard. Rainfall was heavier in Santa Maria — nearly a half-inch — but volume still is light out of that district.
Totals ranged from 0.5 to 2 inches in the Salinas/Watsonville area, which won’t start shipping significant volume until April. The rain was welcomed there because it helps remove salts from the soil, Moriyama said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture was reporting f.o.b. prices of mostly $10-12 for flats of eight 1-pound clamshell containers from Oxnard March 11 and mostly $9-10 per flat out of Santa Maria.
A year ago at this time, f.o.b. prices were $8 for both areas.
A handful of storms that pelted the drought-stricken state this winter has put a damper on overall volume to date.
Total number of trays shipped as of the week ending March 5 was 6.7 million, according to the California Strawberry Commission. That was down significantly from the 12.9 million trays shipped at the same time last year. However, this year’s volume for that week was about 1 million trays more than the projected total.
Despite the slow January and February, Jim Grabowski, director of marketing for Well-Pict Inc., Watsonville, said things are picking up.
“Volume is cranking up out of Oxnard,” he said the second week of March. “It’s building by leaps and bounds.”
Well-Pict could ship out of Oxnard until about mid-May, he said.
Temperatures were predicted to be in the low 70s in the Oxnard and Santa Maria districts for the next two weeks with no more rain forecast before Easter.