Strawberry production down, farmers take a hit

May 14, 2016

Strawberry farm

By John Lindt, publisher of Sierra 2 the Sea

During the past year, acreage dedicated to strawberries in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties is down 25 percent. Acreage dropped from 8,305 in 2015 to 7,100 acres in the Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo district in 2016, according the the California Strawberry Commission

“While consumer demand remains strong, rising production costs and regulatory restraints are eroding returns to growers, resulting in adjusted acres planted for 2016 production,” according to the commission.

Through the first week of May, the Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo district has produced 17.4 million flats compared to 21.6 million flats for the same period a year ago, according to the National Berry report. Statewide the drop-off is even more dramatic, from 71.9 million flats in 2015 to 53.6 million flats so far this year, a 26 percent drop.

Some farms have gone out of business because of financial problems, the drought and new regulations regarding pesticides. In California, fumigants such as chloropicrin and Telone face regulatory scrutiny. In addition, Methyl bromide is being phased out completely this year.

Nevertheless, the commission points to development of new strawberry varieties, increased productivity on the farm and a Cal Poly program as positives. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo recently launched the California Strawberry Sustainability Research and Education Center.

“For 2016, California continues as the leading production region in the world and is expected to supply over 79 percent of the volume consumed in the United States,” according to the commission.

Among other berries, blueberry and raspberry production in California are also down this year while imports from countries like Chile are way up.


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5 Comments

  1. slomom2002 says:

    Just want to point out that at best this is an incomplete article.
    Yes “acreage” is down….most of which was a pre- crop planting decision by the farmers due to regulations, drought and the shortage of labor force.
    But that DOES NOT mean that yield and price are down. And if crops managed by an experienced farmer, they should still be doing well so far this year. All other information, especially related to Strawberries is that the crops being harvested today are plentiful and one of the best as far as quality.
    I am not sure what your sources are but they only gave you half of the information related to crops on the Central Coast.
    And the people who post negative things about Ag production on the Central Coast are naïve to the need for these foods to feed us locally and nationwide. It is a valuable resource to our area and the people who post negative comments are not realizing how we benefit from that. We are also home to one of the best Agriculture Universities in the Country.

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. Josey Wales says:

    Ladies & Gentlemen,

    DO NOT believe this dribble from the California Strawberry Commission, they are the lobbying arm of the Big Ag farmers, and they are simply trying to paint a sympathetic portrait of their rip off scheme taking money from local taxpayers.

    Santa Maria politics have been hijacked by ‘Sanctuary City’ politicians, and local taxpayers are forced to pay hike taxes and endure daily violence, just so city leaders can get reelection cash from Big Ag farmers and the illegal alien farmworker unions CAUSE and PUEBLO.

    Do not forget how Greg France (a political benefactor of Steve Lavignino) of Mar Vista Berry was quite willing to ruin a good Nipomo neighborhood just to house his foreign workers. These farmers use the California Strawberry Commission to rip us all off, and local taxpayers need to reject their ‘Sanctuary City’ politics.

    DO NOT let what has occurred in santa Maria take place in SLO County.

    Just saying.

    (6) 22 Total Votes - 14 up - 8 down
  3. Russ J says:

    Oh boo hoo. I guess the Abel Maldonado and Greg French families of the world had to pay their workers and stop fowling the environment. I’m so glad we could get a water pipe built from Santa Maria to Nipomo so the strawberry field wells don’t go dry. Why does mankind need to consume strawberries and grapes?

    (-6) 18 Total Votes - 6 up - 12 down
  4. Snoid says:

    Recon its time to start pushing strawberry wine. The sheepalcholics should suck it up as the latest fad.

    (0) 16 Total Votes - 8 up - 8 down

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