USA - Weather on both coasts impacts strawberry production

12.01.2023 349 views

Weather conditions are affecting supplies of strawberries across the U.S. Starting in Florida, supplies are currently down 20-30 percent compared to the year-to-year average. “We are picking berries out of Florida right now but it’s not the volumes we’d like to see,” says Jim Grabowski of Well Pict. “That cold spell just before Christmas slowed things down a little bit and they think in the third or fourth week of January we will see volume picking up.”

Peak supplies are anticipated for the second or third week of February and Florida generally goes until mid to late March with production, weather-depending.

Across the country, rain is the issue in California. “Compared to the historical average, we’re probably three to four weeks behind where we should be. The cold and rain have pushed things back,” he says, noting production is coming out of the Oxnard region. “While we could use the water in California, it was a consistent heavy rain and we’re expecting more this week.”

Valentine’s Day volumes
That means volume production out of California will likely come on around January 23 with an eye ahead on the Valentine’s Day pull. “Valentine’s signals the spring strawberry season and retailers like to use strawberries as a kick-off with stemmed strawberries or strawberries in general. That pull usually starts a week to 10 days before,” says Grabowski.

Production will stay in Oxnard until the end of April or even into the middle of May. That marks the start of the sizeable California production cycle at that time given districts will overlap in production--Santa Maria begins in April and Watsonville starts at the beginning of May.

Meanwhile, demand continues to be strong for strawberries even with the higher pricing that’s being seen right now. “Prices are significantly stronger compared to this time last year. I think they will stay strong for the next couple of weeks until both Florida and California volume picks up and then we’ll see probably a steady decline of prices,” says Grabowski.

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