“The rain and brutal weather conditions have caused for a lot of stripping, fruit loss and minimal supplies,” says Vince A. Rosa of V & H Fresh, LLC of Ripon, Ca. In California, Rosa notes that Watsonville and Salinas are trying to get started but being met with that challenging weather. “The Watsonville region is trying to get back into production this week but with another storm on the horizon and 1 to 1.5 inches of rain predicted, the recovery will be slow and this will set everyone back a few weeks,” Rosa adds.
Photo: V&H Fresh
Few weeks out from volume production
“We’re seeing Oxnard bounce back from all the rain we had the week before last so production is increasing in Oxnard. And we are just starting to harvest in Santa Maria but we’re still probably a few weeks out from volume production,” notes says Charlie Staka of CBS Farms LLC. That said, overall Staka says that total volume so far is a little less than last year. “We lost a lot of strawberries to the rain that we had the week before last. It was a pretty damaging rain,” he says.
Affect on travel
Shipping distances can also be affected notes Rosa. “Rain has hindered growth and the fruit has been under a lot of stress which limits the distance it can travel and overall shelf life,” he says. “Berry counts on 8/1# are at a respectable 16-18 count but the fruit just doesn't have the strength nor legs to travel.”
Suppliers are also playing it safe and shipping the fruit to Los Angeles too to trim the travel distances. “There is more shelf-life and value when shipping a short distance,” says Rosa.
Photo courtesy CBS Farms
All of this of course has put pressure on pricing which is higher than last year. Staka notes that pricing is in the $14-$16 FOB range currently while Rosa notes that markets for 8/1# are between $20-$22 FOB.
And so for now, California growers are watching and waiting. “It’s a difficult time right now for California,” says Rosa. “This is one of those difficult times when the weather cripples the supplies.”
Staka also notes that growers are watching to avoid a flood of fruit hitting the market. “We’re cautious looking at the next few weeks to see if all the districts come in at one time and we have a big flush of fruit,” he says. “We have to make sure we know if it’s coming and promote accordingly.”
For more information:
Vince A. Rosa
V & H Fresh, LLC
Tel: +1 (209) -599-4340
CBS Farms LLC
Tel: +1 (831) 763-4401