Rain storm causes an increase in California strawberry pricing

From Fresh Plaza | 16 February 2024

Overview of strawberries from California in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on February 13, 2024.

California is currently in-between rain events. The final part of the most recent storm came through last Thursday morning, February 8. “Up until last Thursday, we basically had a five-day period of rain and received between 5-15 inches during that time frame,” says David Holden, owner of Holden Research and Consulting in Ventura County. “It was a true atmospheric river that is called the Pineapple Express as warm moist air entered the system near Hawaii and made its way over to the U.S. west coast.” The center of the storm was located between Los Angeles County and Santa Barbara and although it was beneficial to some crops, it also heavily damaged others.


“The main disruption was in strawberries,” commented Holden. “That hard rain and wetness caused Botrytis – a fungal disease – to really take off. As a result, harvest crews are now going through the fields for a sanitary pick. They strip the bad fruit off the plants to prevent the disease from further spreading. “While strawberry plants are tough, the fruit isn’t. The damage in strawberry fields around Ventura is quite extensive and just last week, strawberry prices went up by $2- $4 per flat,” said Holden. California growers are now spraying the strawberry fields to protect healthy fruit.

Celery has also been impacted to some extent as growers are seeing more diseases develop after the rain. In addition, the region between Ventura and Santa Barbara is home to about 20,000 acres of lemons, but for the lemon trees, the water seems to be beneficial. “Since harvest hasn’t started yet, there is no activity in the orchards and the fresh water is good for the health of the trees. Most of the water ran off immediately.”

strawberry prices by his

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

More rain coming

As the state is currently having a break from the rain, another storm is already developing. “On Saturday, so in about four days, a new storm will make its appearance and is expected to bring 3 to 4 inches of rain over a five-day period,” shared Holden. “This storm won’t bring as much rain as the previous one, but it is expected to hurt strawberries again. In addition, almond trees are just starting to bloom now and rain on flowering trees could cause diseases to develop.”

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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