March 03, 2014

Rain, Rain Everywhere
But Drought Remains

While the California rain storms have managed to cause property damage and disrupt the state’s vegetable and berry harvest, they still haven’t put an end to the severe drought that plagues this major agricultural state.

Rain finally hit drought-stricken California growing regions this past week in a big and destructive way. Overall, it was a welcome and long overdue drenching of the area that is experiencing the worst drought in nearly a century, but it was too much too fast. Vegetable and strawberry harvests came to a swift halt on Wednesday, Feb. 26, and remained so through the weekend.

Many of the area’s farms sustained serious flooding and there is at least – in the short term – some impact on the strawberry crop. When any rain of any significance falls on strawberry fields it causes damage to any fruit that is red in color. Prolonged rain can raise the presence of mildew if steps are not taken to curb its growth. Immediately follow a rain of this kind, farmers must strip all damaged fruit from the plants by hand.  If good weather returns, the green fruit begins to ripen quickly and supply can get back to normal within about 10 days.

A flooded strawberry farm in Oxnard, Calif., over the weekend.

In anticipation of the coming rain our distribution partners at Pacific Coast Fruit loaded as much of the pre-rain, freshly harvested strawberries as possible to avoid loading any fruit that had been rained on. We have enough great quality strawberries on hand to supply our needs through most of the week. We are avoiding loading any strawberries for the next couple days to give the fields time to dry out and ripen a fresh round of fruit. To give you an idea of how desperate the need for water is, check out this picture of a California reservoir – the San Antonio Reservoir – used to supply water to farms and residents of California. This reservoir, virtually empty, normally feeds the Salinas River.

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