A broken levee is having a huge impact on California's farming communities in the Watsonville and Salinas areas. This region is estimated to grow about one-third of California's strawberries. A levee that ruptured in the nearby Pajaro river last Friday caused more than 8,000 people to evacuate and flooded hundreds of acres of strawberries. It is estimated about a fifth of California strawberry farms in the Watsonville and Salinas areas have been flooded. At this point, it is unknown if the plants will be able to recover. In the Pajaro Valley, strawberries were planted last fall, which means the berries would have hit stores this summer.
The wet fields are hard to imagine as California farmers have been impacted by drought for many years. However, this winter, the state has witnessed everything from intense rain storms to snow storms and flooding.
While strawberries are a key crop in this area, other crops like lettuce and other greens are also impacted.
Photo credit: Driscoll's
Many farmworkers had to evacuate their homes and are now without jobs as the fields can't be accessed. Driscoll's, a family-owned company with strong roots in the Pajaro Valley, posted on LinkedIn how their employees, independent growers, farmworkers, and residents of the community have been impacted. The company's employees have helped raise thousands of dollars to enable residents of impacted communities to purchase water and personal hygiene products. Driscoll's has deployed $340,000 to local organizations for food, shelter, and other needs.
Oxnard, also a key strawberry-growing region but further south, received record amounts of rainfall earlier this week. Fruit from this area is in production right now and has been impacted by rain damage. In addition, the record rainfall causes a potential for decay issues to develop.