view current print edition




There’s a lot of news going on at Watsonville, CA-based Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co. LLC, but most of it relates to the northern districts.

In Southern California, the company’s strawberry program is very much like it was a year ago, according to Fritz Koontz, managing partner.

The company’s acreage in the Oxnard district is “about the same” as last year, Mr. Koontz said. The harvest there started in the latter part of December.

“Mostly, we have short day varieties, so our crop is going to be earlier than most down there,” he said.

Quality has been “very good” in general, but “everybody is suffering a little “ from the effects of freezing temperatures for several days around mid-January, and “there may be a little gap before we get into the early spring. That is pretty much industry-wide I think,” and the adverse effects of the weather were expected to be only temporary. “Otherwise, our crop looks really good,” he said.

“We do expect to have a good season down there before we start in Santa Maria, and Santa Maria will overlap [with Oxnard production] probably going into March,” he said.

Among the new things going on with Santa Cruz Berry Farming in the northern districts, this year is an expansion of the company’s organic strawberry production.

“We’ve got a couple of new private varieties from our breeding program that we are going to incorporate into the organics,” Mr. Koontz said. “This year, that will be mostly in the company’s organic strawberry fields in the Salinas/Watsonville area.

However, “if some of those [varieties] work out, we may move those into Southern California next year.”

Also from the northern districts this year, “we will have some modest availability of some other berries,” specifically raspberries and blackberries, he said.

Day-to-day sales of the berries grown and packed by Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co. are handled by Seven Seas Berry Sales, which has offices in Watsonville, Santa Maria, Oxnard and Irvine, CA.

New on sales at Seven Seas this season, along with Paul Foster, Karol Adams and Vice President of Sales Alan Tagami, is Ryan Saucedo, a recent graduate of La Verne University.