- Author: Mark Bolda
The Jan 4 edition of the weekly California Farm Bureau newspaper "Ag Alert" had a very good article written by Ching Lee about the huge amount of strawberry acres planted for 2023. 31,852 acres of strawberries are already in the ground, and another 9,718 acres are expected to be yet planted in the summer in the Oxnard and Santa Maria districts.
While all of these acres certainly indicate a response to healthy consumer demand, it's still not so easy to make money. So says a leading grower quoted in the article, and our own UCCE cost of production study says the same. Costs of labor, supplies and production materials are up there, slimming down profit possibilities for growers.
Too, the article points to a decline in plant productivity, due to widespread disease and maybe aging of the varieties themselves (we can discuss later), as being a driver for more acres, since as yield of fruit per acre goes down, more acres have to be planted to make up for the shortfall.
Another leading grower points to these widespread soil diseases as "huge concern" and something that will take serious time, money and "intellectual heft" to solve. I agree, and would add there's a real benefit to growers matching all that money with the right intellectual heft, plus grant the patience to get it done right.
Good article, looks like it's open for the moment: