Santa Barbara- S County

Rain Soaks Strawberry Harvest

Growers, workers get day off due to too much water in the fields.

SANTA MARIA VALLEY, Calif. - Fieldworkers got an early start Friday morning harvesting strawberries and trying to get as much ripe fruit picked before the deluge.

By mid-morning water levels were rising in irrigation canals and in the fields  making it difficult to even get at the fruit let alone pick it.

Even though the fruit is ready to be picked, strawberry growers tell Central Coast New when there's too much water from rain in the fields having people out there picking berries will do more harm than good.

It meant a day of lost wages for field workers and lost berries for the growers.

"I've never met a farmer unhappy about the rain", says Carolyn O'Donnell with the California Strawberry Commission, "the harvest that is happening down in the southern part of the state probably this will be enough rain that they will have to strip that fruit, it will be too damaged from the rain."

While the rain may not be good for the ripened berries, its good for the plants, washing away harmful salts that collect around the plant roots.

"Because strawberry plants continue to loosely bloom and produce fruit their able to have more fruit ready and available to pick within the next few weeks", O'Donnell says.

Strawberries are a $2.4 billion annual crop in California, grown on about 40,000 mainly right here on the Central Coast.

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