Growers Focus on Recovery and Resilience Amid California Storms and Flooding; Rick Tomlinson Comments
WATSONVILLE, CA - As we recently reported, California’s latest atmospheric river led to intense flooding in some areas, the failing of the Pajaro River in Monterey County, even urgent evacuations of thousands across several counties known for their contributions to our industry. The full impact of that is only beginning to come to light, yet already the industry is taking amazing steps to do all it can in the face of such challenges.
“This week’s flooding events along the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers have been devastating for those communities. Preliminary assessments estimate hundreds of millions in losses and thousands of people displaced in the town of Pajaro. The entire California strawberry industry would like to thank the first responders, aid organizations, and volunteers who have helped begin the long recovery process. We are thankful that the Pajaro River levee breach is being repaired. 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,” California Strawberry Commission President Rick Tomlinson said in a recent statement regarding the community along the Salinas River.
In addition to strawberries, Markon Cooperative reported the Salinas Valley accounts for roughly 80 percent of the nation’s vegetable production from April to early July.
“Delayed plantings and crops lost to flooding will ultimately lead to product shortages and high prices in the spring and into the summer months,” the cooperative stated in a release. “Previously planted crops projected for harvest from mid-April to mid-May, could experience significant yield losses. Plantings that were scheduled from late last week through this week must be postponed due to the oversaturated conditions.”
While impacts from such unprecedented weather events are to be expected, this is the produce industry and resilience is a resounding note in each report.
Tomlinson commented that farms face massive cleanup before preparing the fields once more and starting over, stating, “Disaster relief and emergency financial assistance will be critical for both the residential community and the farming operations. California strawberry operations, most of which are multi-generational and family-owned, will remain vital to the damaged areas during the recovery and well beyond.”
Despite the challenges, though, he said there will be increased shipments of California strawberries from Oxnard and Santa Maria to stores across the country to keep up with high demand.
“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 concluded.
Home to numerous leafy greens and treefruit in addition to strawberries, everyone is taking incredible steps to ensure maximum yields amid a strong challenge posed by Mother Nature. As these growers continue that fight, AndNowUKnow will report the latest.