California heat wave doesn’t bother berries
July 27, 2018

High temperatures in parts of California in July had no effect at all on berry growing areas, industry leaders said.

Courtesy: California Giant

Looking ahead, most marketers expect promotable berry supplies through September.

“You know, you got all this heat around California, but usually what that does for us is give us a natural air conditioner,” said Craig Moriyama, director of berry operations for Naturipe Farms LLC, Salinas, Calif.

“When it is 100-something in the valley it is cool on the coast,” he said.

Even late in the summer, berry production has been strong, he said.

“We’ve had record production this year,” Moriyama said. “(Volume) has come off record production, but it’s still above the three-year average.”

Production of berries in Salinas and Watsonville, Calif., was running strong and the fall crop in Santa Maria will start by mid-August.

With weather conditions favorable, Moriyama predicted volume of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries should be plentiful going into August and September.

Organic volume was also running strong, he said.

The cold spring put vigor in the (organic) plants and, similar to conventional, organic shipments have been running above historical averages, he said.

California strawberry volume typically peaks in May and then rides a sustained peak through August, said Carolyn O’Donnell, communications director for the Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission. This season has been normal in that sense, but at elevated levels.

“We definitely had a higher-than-expected peak in May, which the weather conditions earlier in February and March kind of helped set up,” she said.

“But now things are evening out. And we’re really seeing pretty much what we would expect for this time of year.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported shipments of California strawberries from January through July totaled 134.9 million 8-pound flats, up 4% compared with 129.9 million 8-pound flats through the same time a year ago.

The USDA reported the average shipping point prices for conventional strawberries this year were $11.85 per carton in March, $11.53 in April, $7.46 in May, $6.66 in June and $9.13 in July.

The USDA said organic California strawberries traded at an average f.o.b. price of $18.20 per flat in March, $18.31 in April, $10.19 in May and $8.39 in June and $11.03 in July.


Domestic blueberry volume through July 14 was running about 9% below year-ago levels, according to the USDA. Shipments in mid-July were active from California, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington and imports also were noted from Canada.

The USDA said average monthly average f.o.b. prices for conventional blueberries this year were $24.04 per carton in April, dropping to $22.04 in May, $17.65 in June and $13.07 in July.

The USDA did not have monthly data on average organic blueberry shipping point prices this year.

Wish Farms was finishing up the North America blueberry season with growers Lally (British Columbia) and Leduc (Michigan), with supply expected into September, said Nick Wishnatzki, marketing projects manager for Plant City, Fla.-based strawberry and blueberry grower-shipper Wish Farms.

“We anticipate abundant, quality supply to meet customer demand,” he said.

The first Peruvian blueberries are anticipated in September, he said.


The Packer