March 18th, 2021
It’s almost always strawberry season in California. Farmers produce up to four million trays per week at the beginning of April and up to 9 million trays per week by May. California strawberry farmers are ready to capitalize annually on rising demand for the fruit during holidays such as Easter, and throughout the summer, when consumption of strawberries is highest.
What makes California such a great region for growing and harvesting strawberries, and how big is the market?
Let's find out!
The Perfect Climate for Strawberries
California supplies over 90% of America's strawberries and the percentage is likely to increase.
Part of the reason is the state's Mediterranean-like climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Moderate temperatures year-round with sunny days and cool, humid nights create the perfect conditions for growing strawberries. Unlike Florida, the second strawberry-producing state in the US, where the berries can be harvested between March and November, California has a 12-month growing season.
The climate and extended growing season make California's fields extremely productive. About 75% of all California strawberries produced each year are harvested for the fresh fruit market, and 25% are frozen for the processed fruit market. While the majority of fresh California strawberries are sold in the United States, 16% are exported to Canada, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong.
Strawberry Acreage Is Increasing
There are about 52,700 acres in the United States dedicated to growing and harvesting strawberries, with California holding the vast majority of it - 38,200 acres.
The earliest California strawberries are produced in Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties, where the harvest spans from January through May, with the peak of the season being in April.
The Oxnard region (Ventura County), known for its Strawberry Festival, produces fresh strawberries from January through June. Northern regions, such as Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Fresno counties, start shipping in April with the peak of the season being in May and June.
The Size of the Market
The United States produces more than 1.6 billion pounds of strawberries annually, valued at nearly $3.5 billion. The value of the strawberry market in California is estimated at about $2.34 billion and is considered among the most valuable crops in the state, along with dairy, grapes, almonds, cattle and calves and pistachios.
Good marketing also plays a role in the size of the market. California Strawberry Commission launched a marketing campaign, "Snack with Heart," aimed at encouraging consumption and connecting the heart of the farmers with the hearts of consumers. Using social media and digital media combined with influencer partnerships, the marketing campaign highlights the health benefits of California strawberries, to increase consumption.
Are You Ready to Enter the Market?
California strawberries seem to be a good agribusiness investment. They produce a large amount of fruit and require only a modest amount of land to grow. The mild California climate makes it possible to harvest this crop almost all year round.
Need Help with Agricultural Financing? See What We Can Do for You
Community West Bank fulfills the financing needs of our farmer and rancher clients with Farmer Mac mortgage loans for land acquisition, loans to refinance existing debt, and financing for capital improvements.
For Farmer Mac financing questions, please contact Laura Maffei at (805) 692 – 4394 or (209) 679 – 9244, or by email to LMaffei@CommunityWestBank.com.