Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co. LLC in Watsonville, CA, is involved in strawberry production in the Watsonville district as well as the earlier Oxnard and Santa Maria districts.
Oxnard, where the harvest has been going on in a light way for some time, was “just getting ready to ramp up” when The Produce News talked to Stephanie Hilton, a spokeswoman for Santa Cruz.
“We are just getting started this week in Santa Maria,” where the company will be harvesting through the summer, she said. “In Santa Maria we are going to have a pretty fast start once we get up and going.” The company does expect to have fruit for Easter from Santa Maria as well as from Oxnard.
The company’s Oxnard program is basically unchanged from last year. The company has slightly less than 200 acres in Santa Maria, with a higher percentage of the Monterey variety than a year ago.
In Watsonville, the company’s acreage is up for the 2013 season, with most of the increase being in organic strawberries, Ms. Hilton said. About one-third of the Watsonville production is now organic. That production was expected to get started in a light way in April.
“We have all good-flavored varieties that we are growing in Watsonville,” she said. Most of the company’s Watsonville berries are Albion variety, but Monterey is also part of the mix in that district. Additionally, “we have a couple of experimental varieties that we are excited about” in the organic program that are “good-tasting varieties with high color.”
In addition, Santa Cruz will be growing some organic raspberries and organic blackberries this year in the Watsonville district, Ms. Hilton said. Those will be harvested primarily from July through October.
The company’s berries, both conventional and organic, are all packed in the “Santa Cruz” label.
“It looks like we are going to continue to expand our organic line of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries,” she said. “That is our intention this year and in the future.”
The company’s farming operations are GlobalGAP certified. “That is pretty much what retailers are asking of us,” Ms. Hilton said.
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. Ryan Saucedo, a recent graduate of La Verne University, is new on sales at Seven Seas this season. He joined Paul Foster, Karol Adams and Vice President of Sales Alan Tagami.