Posts Tagged: strawberries
Abundant rainfall in January and February 2019 bodes well for the forthcoming Central Valley strawberry season, reported Reuben Contreras on ABC Channel 30 Action News in Fresno.
Contreras interviewed Michael Yang, small farms and specialty crops Hmong agricultural assistant with UC Cooperative Extension.
"We need the water as much as we can right now," Yang said. He said the rain will add to the groundwater supply most farmers use to grow their crops, plus it will make the strawberries sweeter.
Cool weather is also welcome.
"Strawberries need cool weather but in the summer, the hot weather with the variety strawberries will not survive the heat," he said.
In the San Joaquin Valley, strawberries are picked from late March to early June. If the wet weather pattern established in January and February continues through the spring, that could spell trouble for strawberry farmers. Wet strawberries can rot in the field.
In 1997, the last time meteorologists recorded a strong El Niño, strong rains from April through August caused $1.1 billion in damage to California's economy because of severe flooding and landslides, the article said. In February of 1998, weeks of rain caused an additional $550 million in damages to the state's economy.
For the strawberry industry, flooding can be tolerated part of the season, but closer to harvest, flooding is not good, said a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) expert.
Surendra Dara, the strawberry and vegetable crops advisor for UC ANR Cooperative Extension for Central Coast counties, said strawberries are planted early in the winter. Young plants might be able to survive torrential downpours or even flooded fields, but rain later in the season is harmful to mature berries.
“Not only the rain, but the dampness,” Dara said. “If there's too much moisture for too long, (strawberries) … will rot in water, that kind of thing.”
Normally strawberry season starts in early April, but in the Fresno area Rodriguez found a dozen roadside stands already selling the springtime favorite.
Rodriguez spoke to Michael Yang, an agricultural assistant with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension in Fresno County. Despite warmer temperatures and a shortage of water for some growers, the overall quality of the crop looks good, Yang said.
“You may see that on some farms where the growers have had trouble getting enough water,” Yang says. “The fruit may not size up, but that sweet taste will still be there.”
Most of the region's growers produce Chandler or Albion strawberries, two cultivars that were developed by University of California researchers.
Merced Sun-Star reporter Ana Ibarra interviewed UC ANR advisor David Doll, who said the strawberry industry in Merced is small but important. According to Doll, the success of this year's strawberry season will be mainly dependent on the heat. Just as the heat accelerated the season, it also can be cut short if the high temperatures continue, he said.
Record reporter Reed Fujii spoke to Brenna Aegerter, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Joaquin County. She said she's never seen such losses due to beet curly top virus.
"In my eight years here in this county, I had only seen curly top in two fields," she said. "The virus was present in every tomato field I have seen this season, though in most fields, the incidence was so low as to not be a concern."
Beet curly top is spread by beet leafhopper. The insect don't like tomatoes and peppers, but will briefly feed on the crop and infect them before moving on, Aegerter said. The high leafhopper population is most likely a cyclic peak.
"The hope is we'll go back next year to not seeing it," Aegerter said.
Amy Asman of the Santa Maria Sun used UC Cooperative Extension materials for her story on the serious pallidosis-related disease threat in local strawberries. For detailed information about the strawberry decline, see UCCE advisor Surendra Dara's story in the Strawberries and Vegetables blog.
The county’s strawberries were valued at more than $179 million in 2011.
Surendra Dara, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Luis Obispo County, a strawberry expert, said the 2012 crop is still larger and doing very well.
“In the fields I’ve been checking, they’re very tasty,” Dara said.
The factor that has the greatest impact on strawberry sweetness and flavor, he said, is variety. The most popular variety is the Albion, which was developed by the University of California. The UC-developed San Andreas variety is also popular.