Strawberry season is a magical time to visit California, as it marks the period when one of the state’s most prominent fruits comes into its prime. You will be treated to magnificent scenes of the fields flourishing with the vibrant colours of bright red berries and their lush green runners.
This is a time when one of the world’s most famed fruits debuts in one of the most popular parts of America, so visiting the Golden State at this special time of year has to be one of the most magical things to do when holidaying in the USA.
Picture yourself meandering through blossoming fields of vibrant green runners and succulent, plump strawberries. The fruits that you choose to sample will explode on your taste buds in a way that no other strawberry has done before!
Now that I have whetted your appetite, you may be wondering ‘when is strawberry picking season in California’? Keep reading, as I will share all you need to know about this enchanting period to get clued up on exactly what to expect while visiting during this special time of year.
What Is Strawberry Season in California?
The term strawberry season refers to the prime time for harvesting strawberries. During this period, the taste and texture of the fruit reach new heights as they get to their juiciest and most flavourful.
In-season strawberries are easy to identify. They have a bright ruby-red colour and have a much sweeter flavour than the fruits you scoff throughout the rest of the year.
Beyond flavour, there are also other key giveaways to a divine strawberry. Healthy, green leaves suggest that the flesh of the fruit is fresh and ready to be enjoyed. So be sure to assess the standard of the runners around the berries when making your selection.
What is Special About California Strawberries?
You might be unaware, but California’s prestigious reputation extends far beyond its Hollywood stars or world-renowned wines. The state is also a massive distributor of succulent strawbs. In fact, 90% of the strawberries grown in the whole of the USA are produced in the Golden State.
There are primarily two types of strawberries growing in California: the day-neutral and short-day varieties. The first category thrives throughout the whole of the growing season and is not sensitive to day length.
In contrast, the flower buds of short-day strawberries grow during the shorter days of the summer and autumn months. This type generates a single crop that is said to be the largest of the fruit’s varieties.
When Is Strawberry Season in California?
Peak strawberry season in California takes place in early summer and runs until the beginning of autumn.
The winters tend to be mild In southern California so the strawberries are usually planted between late October and December. In contrast, summer plantings are the way to go in the north of the state where temperatures are lower towards the end of the year. Here, you can expect to see the dedicated farmers sowing the seeds of our favourite berry between early August and October in this area.
As the northern and southern sides of the state each have their own planting period, their strawberries do not reach their prime at the same time, so strawberry seasons differ slightly across California.
When is Strawberry Season in Northern California?
When it comes to the strawberry season in northern California, the prime time for harvesting those juicy berries lies between April and July, with the peak of the season falling in May and June. The key planting areas in this side of the state include Monterey, San Benito, Fresno and Santa Carla.
When is Strawberry Season in Southern California?
On the southern side of California, the best time to go strawberry picking is between April and June. During this period, you will see strawberries like you never have before, reaching their ripest with bright red flesh and flourishing green leaves. And don’t get me started on the flavour!
Where to Pick Strawberries in California
Fortunately for you, the landscapes of California are blessed with a host of U-pick strawberry farms where you can go and pluck the delicious fruits yourself.
Here are a few of my favourites:
- Carlsbad Strawberry Company – if you happen to be visiting Southern California during strawberry picking season, Carlsbad Strawberry Company is an excellent place to head. Here you can explore magnificent strawberry fields and get lost in a spectacular sunflower maze.
- Tanaka Farms – offering the ultimate u-pick experience, you can get right in on the action at Tanaka Farms by jumping on a wagon that will take you around the fields. During the ride, you will be able to stop wherever and whenever a juicy berry catches your eye while journeying through this little southern Californian utopia.
- Swanton Berry Farm – located in Northern California, Swanton Berry Farm offers visitors the opportunity to wistfully wander from one strawberry plant to the next, sampling the fruits of the area. Don’t fret or overthink a trip to this little haven, as everything has been made incredibly easy for you, with boxes provided and no reservation needed.
If you are lucky enough to have the magical experience of visiting California during this season and stop by a strawberry farm, try not to get carried away and pick more than you will consume. It is so easy to get swept up in the excitement and the flawless appearance of these juicy berries but doing so only leads to food waste. So, be sure to pluck responsibly!
I hope you are feeling confident about visiting during this charming time of year after reading my guide on strawberry season in California. If I’ve left you with a taste for the Golden State, check out my California Travel Guide which will tell you all you need to know to have the most unforgettable time in this little patch of paradise.