History of the Commission
The California Strawberry Commission was enacted by enabling legislation and a referendum of farmers and handlers in 1993. The Commission succeeds the California Strawberry Advisory Board established in 1955. State marketing orders and commissions are formed by legislation which authorizes self-taxation by farmers. This self-assessment funds Commission activities and projects.
Strawberry Commission activities fall into five major areas: food safety, production and nutrition research, trade relations, public relations and public policy.
Activities are developed, approved and implemented under the authority of the Commission’s committees, with final approval provided by the Commissioners. This committee structure ensures that the activities of the Commission are thoroughly considered and enacted in the best interest of the industry. The Commission also has public members to ensure that programs advance the greater interest of the community.
California is the nation’s leading producer of strawberries. In 2008, growers harvested nearly 1.8 billion pounds of strawberries, which accounted for 86 percent of the country’s total fresh and frozen strawberry production. The coast of California has a unique environment. Its western ocean exposure provides moderate temperatures year round with warm sunny days and cool foggy nights — the perfect combination for growing delicious, beautiful strawberries!
The value of the California strawberry crop is approximately $2.1 billion. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, strawberries are the seventh most valuable fruit crop produced in California.
Acreage and Growing Districts
Statewide, strawberries will be produced on over 37,914 acres in 2009 (2009 Acreage Survey).
Coastal California’s rich sandy soil and temperate climate extends the strawberry growing season 500 miles up the coast from San Diego to the Monterey Bay. Strawberry production generally shifts between north and south with the changing seasons. Fall and winter production starts in October in Ventura County and extends south into Orange and San Diego Counties in late December or early January. Production in the south generally extends into April or May. Staggered planting schedules in the Santa Maria area extends the season, with the harvest beginning in March, and continues into the late fall.
California’s northern strawberry growing region is south of San Francisco and includes Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties and some acreage in Santa Clara and San Benito counties. The cities of Watsonville and Salinas account for almost half of the state’s strawberry acreage. Shipments from northern areas begin in April, peak in May or June, and continue through November.
Growing & Harvesting
Strawberries are grown as an annual crop in California. The plants are first grown in a nursery and then transplanted into the soil by growers. Plants are replaced each year following the harvesting period and lay dormant in production fields through the winter in the northern districts. Nursery plants destined for strawberry production fields are planted in October or November for winter planting or in late July through September for summer planting.
California’s 12-month growing season contributes to higher strawberry yields per acre than any other growing area. Other areas of the country have shorter production cycles, from an average of five-months to as short as a few weeks.
All California strawberries are hand picked to ensure only the highest quality berries are harvested. Strawberry plants continually produce new fruit throughout their production cycle, and during peak season plants are harvested every three days. Of all the California strawberries produced each year, approximately 75 percent are harvested for the fresh market, while about 25 percent are frozen for the processed market. Fresh strawberries are rushed to coolers, where huge fans pull out the field heat, and then shipped within 24 hours on refrigerated trucks or air freighted to their final destination. Strawberries selected for processing are gently washed, sorted and frozen quickly to ensure the best flavor and appearance is retained. Berries are sliced, pureed or kept whole for freezing.
Approximately 16.3 percent of the fresh California strawberry crop is annually exported. Canada, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong are the largest importers of California strawberries. Canada receives the majority of California’s fresh and frozen exports.
Myron L Meters is proud to do business with the California Strawberry Commission.
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