Mar 16, 2023
California flood damage to some strawberry fields substantial

California strawberry growers whose crops were wiped out by flooding just weeks before harvest will be able to replant once fields dry out and are repaired, but losses to the industry and damage to communities are in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

While the massive cleanup in the Pajaro, California, area continues, shipments from the Oxnard and Santa Maria production areas will be going to retailers across the U.S., according to a statement from Rick Tomlinson, strawberry commission president.

The Pajaro River levee in northern Monterey County failed late March 10 as heavy rains caused the Pajaro and Salinas rivers to overflow.

Click to enlarge

“We are thankful that the Pajaro River levee breach is being repaired,” Tomlinson said in his statement. “Stopping the river from flowing into the community is the first priority. This is a good start toward a safer place to live, raise a family, and work.”

Tomlinson said the foreseeable future will be challenging for families and businesses.

“Farms face a massive cleanup. As soon as the cleanup is complete, farmers will begin the process of preparing the fields and starting over,” according to his statement. “For the farms that were flooded, this catastrophe hit at the worst possible time. Farmers had borrowed money to prepare the fields and were weeks away from beginning to harvest. Disaster relief and emergency financial assistance will be critical for both the residential community and the farming operations.”

California strawberry farms, many of which are family owned and support several generations, will remain vital to their communities during the recovery and beyond, he said.

“Times are tough, but the town of Pajaro, the surrounding communities and the strawberry farming families are more resilient than ever, and we will work together to recover,” Tomlinson said in his statement.

Top photo: Strawberries fields in Monterey County, California were flooded when a levee along the Pajaro River was breached. Photos courtesy California Strawberry Commission.

Second photo: Pajaro, California, and nearby strawberry fields were flooded when a levee broke on March 10. 



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