California strawberry growers reported good quality and color as the Oxnard deal ramps up and California product begins sharing shelf space with fruit from Florida and Mexico.

Freezing temperatures early the week of Jan. 2 in Florida threw a curve, at least temporarily, into domestic strawberry supplies, said Cindy Jewell, marketing director with California Giant Inc., Watsonville, Calif.

“It was running along pretty smoothly until yesterday,” Jewell said Jan. 4.

But Jewell said any supply interruptions out of the Sunshine State would likely be short-lived.

In early January Florida was getting California’s early-season weather and California Florida’s, said David Cook, sales manager for Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard, Calif.

“The shoe’s on the other foot,” Cook said Jan. 4. “Florida’s cold and we’re good.”

High winds in central Mexico also have affected strawberry production from the region, but, like Florida’s freeze, were not expected to have a major affect on supplies, Jewell said.

“There’s still plenty of fruit,” she said.

Mild weather in Florida and Mexico has helped produce colorful, good-tasting fruit, generating a lot of positive feedback on California Giant’s consumer website, Jewell said.

That, in turn, has kept fruit moving.

“Things are clipping along pretty nicely,” she said.

In early January California Giant was starting to ship light volumes out of Oxnard, the first California region out of the gate in the New Year, Jewell said.

In early January Deardorff was beginning to get inquiries for Oxnard strawberries from regions east of the West Coast, Cook said.

“Florida, Mexico and California are all fighting for the same dollars in the same window,” he said. “California should take over by mid-spring, but until then, it will be very interesting.”

On Jan. 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $16-18 for flats of 12 1-pint baskets of medium strawberries from Oxnard, down from $26-28 last year at the same time.

Cool weather in California delayed the deal slightly, but the week of Jan. 2 California temperatures were above normal, Jewell said.

“The weather’s looking good, though a little rain would be nice” to prevent growers from having to irrigate fields, she said.

Cook reported good size and 85%-90% of full color on early Oxnard fruit the week of Jan. 2.

Strawberry volumes in Oxnard would continue ramping up in January and February, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Jewell said. Deardorff also was targeting Valentine’s Day for promotable volumes, Cook said.