Local News

Jan 12, 2010 2:05 PM by Monica Quintero

2009 great year for strawberry crop in Santa Maria

2009 was a record-breaking year for the strawberry crop locally and in the state. The California Strawberry Commission said 174 million trays were shipped in California in 2009. A tray is equivalent to eight one-pound boxes of strawberries. To give you some background on the industry, it employs about 80,000 people in the state.

Paul Cracknell is with Driscoll's Strawberry Associates in Santa Maria, a local supplier. He said, "The retailers and the supermarkets, they're finding great success with the strawberry category so given that it's increased our demand on a field level for strawberries."
Carolyn O'Donnell, California Strawberry Commission, said, "Santa Maria saw a great increase between 2008 and 2009. They shipped a little bit over 31 million trays in 2008 and in 2009 it was nearly 40 million." It translated into more than a 25-percent increase. It's good news for an industry that generates big bucks in our state. O'Donnell said, "The California strawberry industry is worth about 1.2 billion dollars."

Another Santa Maria strawberry producer gave KSBY News its report. A spokesperson for Manzanita Berry Farms said 2009 was its most productive year ever. But he also said the bulk of the harvest was sold at a price about 12-percent lower than their 10 year average. He said that's the lowest in more than 15 years of farming in Santa Maria. Cracknell said, "We've seen the organic category slow down a little more because that's normally higher priced."

The hope now 2010 will be another record breaking year for the strawberry crop. As for that pricing, the California Strawberry Commission said on average, retailers were charging lower prices to sell more strawberries. The largest producing area in the state when it came to strawberries in 2009 was Watsonville.

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