California has several strawberry varieties in commercial production, each with its own characteristics, advantages, and harvest time. Below are the varieties most commonly grown on California’s more than 30,000 lush and fertile acres.
Albion - This new day-neutral variety has a seasonal fruit production yield similar to that of Diamante. However, Albion generally has a slightly lower spring peak and is less prone to a summer gap in production. Albion has a more consistently conical shape and similar fruit size and especially early in the season, has substantially better weather tolerance than Diamante. Its fruit color is darker, both intenally and externally, and its flavor is consitently sweeter.
Aromas - Released in 1997, this day-neutral plant produces a large, firm fruit with great flavor, a good red color, and a bright sheen. Fruit is produced slightly later than other day-neutral varieties and production continues into late fall. Aromas are currently grown on nearly 2 percent of the statewide acreage and are mainly produced in the Watsonville/Salinas district.
Camarosa - This short-day variety produces large, bright, firm and flavorful fruit with a good sheen. Because this fruit ships and stores so well, it can be picked with full red color and still retain shelf life. Due to early production potential, Camarosa is the primary variety for southern districts, though it’s also grown in the north. Released in 1993, Camarosa accounts for nearly one-third of the state's acreage.
Camino Real - This new short-day variety was commercially planted for the first time in 2002. Early tests show it performs well in the Santa Maria district. This variety has firm, dark red fruit with a good shelf life and very good flavor. Camino Real has a relatively high resistance to common plant diseases.
Diamante - Released to the industry in 1997, this day-neutral variety accounts for more than 23 percent of the state's acreage. A large, flavorful, firm fruit with a bright red sheen and a long shelf life, Diamante may be picked with full red color. Though grown primarily in the Watsonville, Salinas and Santa Maria districts, this fruit is now being tested by growers in other areas.
Ventana - This new short-day variety was available for the first time in 2002, on limited acreage. Ventana produces fruit earlier in the season than Camarosa, has excellent fruit quality, and though specifically adapted to early planting in southern California, has also performed well in Santa Maria. Ventana has bright red fruit, slightly lighter in color than Camarosa, a good flavor, shape and fruit size, with similar firmness and shelf-life to the Camarosa. Ventana accounts for nearly 9 percent of the state’s acreage.
Many farms in California grow proprietary varieties. Unlike the publicly available plants bred by the University of California, these varieties are grown primarily for each individual company. There is also a small percentage of other University varieties grown throughout the state. Together, proprietary and other varieties represent more than 33 percent of the state's acreage.
Harvesting begins in Southern California and moves north as the season progresses. Peak season is between April and June when all of the growing districts are in full production. However, since 50 percent of the California crop is harvested after June 1, there are still plenty of strawberries available in the late summer and early fall.
|Watsonville & Salinas||12,910||April - November||Diamante represents 46.0% of this district’s acreage. Proprietary varieties are also very prevalent, with 37.2% of the acreage in this district. Camarosa is nowat 7.1%.|
|Santa Maria||7,285||March - July||Although declining, Camarosa is still planted in 40.8% of the district. Diamante is up to 29.9%. Proprietary varieties represent 15.4% of the acreage, with Ventana now at 8.1%.|
|Oxnard||11,936||January - May
(84% of acreage)
October – December
(16% of acreage)
|Camarosa has declined to 15.6% of the district. Proprietary varieties have increased to 59.1% of the acreage with Ventana up to 22.8%.|
|Orange County & San Diego||1,855||January - May||Camarosa has declined to 48.9% of the acreage. Ventana increased to 49.1% and there is some proprietary acreage in 2.0% of the district.|
|San Joaquin||669||February - June||Camarosa 6% and Chandler 96%. This district is committed primarily to the processed market.|