California strawberry season maintaining good momentum

California's strawberry season is moving along nicely as earlier disruptions are making way for steady volumes and good quality fruit. Production is steadily moving northwards up the coast with Oxnard peaking and Santa Maria about to peak. 

Oxnard has had an excellent season with strong volumes and very little weather issues. "Oxnard has peaked and we expect their production to wind down now," said Steve Johnston of GW Palmer. "They've had very good volume and expect to be packing up until Mother's Day, which is their goal. Santa Maria is also experiencing good volume and they should be peaking shortly."

Salinas and Watsonville have faced an assortment of challenging conditions and as a result are taking a while to build volume. Once they do, however, the two regions are expected to produce good numbers.

"Salinas and Watsonville were expected to start producing earlier than they have," Johnston explained. "But because of the cold February and wet March, they're barely getting going. If we get some favorable weather, we should see some good volume coming through. However, the forecast for the next few days is still cool so there's a chance they might peak in July."

Market remains well balanced
Volumes on strawberries are such that the market has remained good, with sufficient volume tempered by the different regions peaking at different times. Johnston noted that prices have been moderate, "The market has been kept generally above $10.00 - $12.00, which means it hasn't reduced stemming from strong production. Quality has also been very good in all 3 districts."

With Mother's Day around the corner, Johnston said that volume and prices are building up just in time for that important strawberry Holiday. It seems the weather has helped growers this year to build production at the right moment. 

"After the cool spell, the weather is forecast to warm up later next week just in time for Mother's Day," he said. "The market is sitting at a good level and volume is expected to build, so the weather has worked in their favor. Shippers are in a good position for the Mother's Day pull."

Furthermore, the staggered production means that the shortage of labor is not as severe as previously feared. "Because the districts are peaking at different times and not all booming at once, labor has not been an issue," Johnston observed.

For more information:
Steve Johnston
GW Palmer
Tel: +1 (831) 753-6578

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