What is in this article?:
- Several Santa Barbara County, Calif. strawberry growers are dealing with pallidosis-related decline disease in some strawberry fields this summer.
- Strawberry grower Jerry Cardenas of Santa Maria lost about $300,000 due to the disease by late July.
- Pallidosis is a viral disease which requires several viruses to combine to cause the disease.
CALIFORNIA STRAWBERRY grower Jerry Cardenas, left, Big J Produce, and pest control adviser John Gracia, AG RX, both of Santa Maria, examine plants affected by pallidosis-related decline disease of strawberry on Cardenas’ farm operation.
California Central Coast strawberry growers Jerry Cardenas and Vividiana Gomez peered over their fields in late July with a solemn look ingrained on their faces.
A strawberry disease called pallidosis-related decline (pallidosis, for short) was killing their strawberry plants, and robbing the growers of fruit and income to pay the bills.
“I estimate my losses at about $300,000 from the disease on about 31 acres of strawberries,” said Cardenas, a second-generation grower.
Cardenas is the owner of Big J Produce near Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County, the third-largest strawberry-producing county in California.
“This is a serious financial loss for us,” Cardenas said.
Cardenas’ farm is located in the heart of the Santa Maria Valley, about seven miles east of the Central Coast.
Cardenas is one of about 400 strawberry growers in California. Combined, these growers earned about $2 billion in farm income in 2011 from about 38,000 acres of berries.
About a dozen of Cardenas’ 90 acres of strawberries were severely infected with the disease. Of the two strawberry varieties grown, the most damage was in the San Andreas variety. The BG-1975 variety had less damage.
Cardenas removed 50, 40-inch strawberry beds with 75 percent to 100 percent of pallidosis disease. About 75 beds were 35-50 percent infected.
Cardenas is growing strawberries on a one-year land lease.