California strawberry shipments in 2017 have already exceeded its 2016 record setter with a full month to go in the year.
By the middle of November California growers had packed 197.3 million crates statewide, exceeding the 196.8 million crates produced during all 12 months of 2016.
What is ironic about the shipping season is California experienced one of its rainiest winters on record in 2016-17, plus the heavy strawberry production area of the Salinas Valley, among others, had an exceptionally hot summer.
However, the rains helped to rinse away some of the salts that had built up in the top layer of soil during the drought.
Higher yields from newer strawberry varieties also contributed to the record crop. Growers planned to plant 36,141 acres of strawberries in 2017, off from 40,816 acres four years earlier.
California strawberry shipments take place the year around and basically follow the sun. During the peak shipping season, all of the state’s major growing regions — Oxnard, Orange County, Santa Maria and Watsonville are loading berries. Peak shipments are typically in the spring and early summer, but it came later this year due to spring rains.
Strawberry shipments in the early part of 2017 were adversely affected by big storms. The result was amazing with seasonal rainfall totals in many coastal areas being around 150 percent of normal. Luckily, growers for the most part avoided major damage from the storms.
A recent consumer survey revealed strawberries as America’s favorite fresh fruit. 32 percent of respondents identified strawberries as their favorite fruit, in the survey that did not provide a list of fruits from which to choose. Bananas (9 percent) placed second, while watermelons (8 percent) were the third favorite fruit in the U.S.
California is the leading strawberry shipping region in the world. The state also provides nearly 80 percent of the strawberries grown, packed, shipped and consumed in the U.S.
While California strawberries are currently coming mostly out of Santa Maria and Oxnard, this is a light volume time of the year. Mexican strawberry shipments are currently light as well, but is increasing in volume with the new shipping season.
Santa Maria strawberries and vegetables – grossing about $8000 to New York City.