(June 1) WATSONVILLE, Calif. — Rainfall throughout California on May 21-22 damaged much of the state’s strawberry crops, but growers were able to strip the plants and bounce back by the next week.

Shippers said supplies should be ample the first week of June.

“We spent all of last week cleaning the plant, stripping it, getting the juice to the processor and then trying to get the field back to normal as quickly as possible,” Anthony Gallino, vice president of sales for California Giant Inc., said May 30.

The company’s strawberry fields in Watsonville, Santa Maria and Oxnard were pummeled by the rains, he said, with about 1¾ inches falling within the two-day period.

“The worst thing about it was it was warm after (the rain), and that accelerates the rot process,” Gallino said.

At Well-Pict Inc., Watsonville, sales manager Dan Crowley said May 31 that crews went through fields after the rains to remove water-damaged berries.

“It took us the better part of two rounds, or five days of harvesting, to clean the water damage off of the plants,” he said.

The company salvaged 50% of its crop through juice processors and some fresh packs, Crowley said.

“Since the rains, the weather has turned ideal with ample sunshine, and the plant responds accordingly,” he said, adding that the warmer weather has restored the berries’ shine and sugar level.

Rains have come through the region on untimely occasions all year, Gallino said.

“Every Saturday before a major holiday, it’s rained,” he said. “It’s been a bummer this year.”

The company’s strawberry production and quality have resumed to normal levels, though, he said.

“There’s plenty of fruit now, so we have to get back to promoting again,” Gallino said. “The bad thing now is you’re starting to run into cherries.”

Because Cal Giant contracts with regional juice processors, it was able to divert 100% of its berries for juice, Gallino said.