The California Strawberry Commission's 2002 annual acreage survey reports an 8 percent increase for the 2002 season. Total acreage for 2002 is estimated at 27,178 acres, up from 25,143 in 2001.

The 2002 California strawberry season began in southern California in January and will continue through November in northern districts.

Acreage was reported to be higher in all major growing districts, however, Oxnard and Santa Maria districts are reporting the largest acreage increases of 10 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Watsonville/Salinas remains the largest producing district in the state with 11,300 acres.

“With increases reported throughout the state, incremental volume should be consistent during the peak and through the summer season. So, consumers can expect good quality and availability,” said Cindy Jewell, executive vice president of the commission.

Currently, California farmers are harvesting an average of 45,000-85,000 trays per day. Volume will steadily increase into April and May, when weekly volume can reach five million trays during peak season. “Early volume from the southern districts is producing excellent quality and demand is already increasing for spring strawberries.” said Jewell.

Camarosa, a University of California variety, is dominant at 10,835 acres, representing 40 percent of the state's acreage. This variety produces early and is well suited to the southern districts. The Diamante, a newer University variety, continues to increase, now at 23.6 percent of the acreage. This variety is better suited for northern growing districts.