California Strawberries Experience Storm Damage Nearing $200 Million

Brian GermanBerries, Fruits & Vegetables, Industry

While the overall outlook for California strawberries remains positive, the industry is continuing to assess damages related to the storms that came through the state. The California Strawberry Commission (CSC) reports that altogether, 1,840 acres of strawberries are looking at catastrophic damage. Losses are approaching $200 million in crop, property, and equipment damages. Farmers are being asked to report damage directly to each county to further understand the scope of overall storm losses.

California Strawberries

The recent storm systems have eroded approximately 350 acres. As of January 19, nearly 1,500 acres were still waiting for flood waters to recede. CSC broke down the areas that have been hardest hit by the storm systems, with 573 acres in Santa Cruz and North Monterey counties at risk for catastrophic losses. Another 500 acres in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties are at risk. In Monterey County 467 are at risk and another 400 acres in Ventura County.

“We were fortunate that these storms came at a time when most farms are dormant and thus farm worker jobs have had minimum impact,” said CSC President Rick Tomlinson. “We are thankful to the farm workers who have come back to work to help with the recovery.”

Heavy rain and wind have been creating issues for a variety of growers since the start of 2023. Strawberry damage reports are still preliminary, and California is forecasted to experience a reprieve from any further storms in the near future. Despite the damage, the influx of rainwater will ultimately benefit the 31,852 acres of California strawberries.

“The rain washes the soil and improves plant health,” said Tomlinson. “As soon as we get a few weeks of sun, the strawberry plants should recover in time to start harvest in the spring. With improved soil health from the rains, we should have a good season.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West