Small strawberry industry makes a big splash

Apr 7, 2010
Strawberries aren't a large industry in the San Joaquin Valley. Only about one percent of the state's crop is grown on the valley floor. But strawberries' annual arrival on primarily small-scale farms and sale from roadside stands is hailed annually by the local news media.

Yesterday, Fresno's ABC Action News ran a report on the effect of recent rain storms on strawberry production. The story featured Southeast Asian grower Nelson Yang, who expressed relief that the rain seems to have stopped before damaging his crop.

Reporter Dale Yurong also interviewed UC Cooperative Extension agricultural assistant Michael Yang (no relation to Nelson Yang) about the fate of Fresno County's 2010 strawberry crop.

"When you have rain like this, most of the time the fruit will rot," Yang said. However, because the majority of the crop is not ripe yet, the fruit is firm and less susceptible to damage.

Warmer weather forecast for the end of this week is sure to open up the strawberry stands, according to a story in today's Fresno Bee.

"It never really feels like spring until local strawberries arrive," Fresno Bee food reporter Joan Obra wrote.

Obra published her annual rundown on local strawberry production, a report that includes a map to local farm stands. She talked to UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Richard Molinar about the varieties buyers can expect to find.

Chandler is a longtime favorite, but has a short shelf life. Albion has large, firm berries that are very sweet. Other popular varieties are Camarosa and Seascape.

Conventional wisdom says the newer varieties are not as sweet at Chandlers, but “we’re talking about minute differences,” Molinar was quoted.

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By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist