A major storm that pummeled California in mid-October is causing supply shortages of strawberries from the state’s major growing districts of Salinas and Watsonville.
Brian Bocock, vice president of sales of Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC, said volume was off 45% following the storm. Volumes are rebounding, but only by about 20% as of Oct. 21.
“We had significant damage due the rains,” said Bocock, who estimated up to four inches of rain fell on some of the company’s fields during the one-day storm.
Though the company is having issues filling orders, Bocock said the storm came when the season for raspberries, blackberries and strawberries is coming to an end in the Salinas-Watsonville growing district and new production is coming online in other parts of California and in Florida.
According to the California Strawberry Commission, Watsonville, before the storm, California had record strawberry production this year due to good weather and increased acreage. To date, about 1.5 billion pounds of strawberries have been produced, with more than 759 million pounds coming from the Salinas-Watsonville district.
Jodi Reinman, who handles public relations for the commission, said the storm damaged ripe strawberries throughout the area and cut the season short for some growers who anticipated a few more weeks of production.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reporting strawberry supplies are too light to establish f.o.b. prices for Salinas and Watsonville but is reporting that pints and 1-pound clamshells of strawberries from Oxnard are between $14-$18.