SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Strawberry season is beginning in the Santa Maria Valley with farmers optimistic for another successful year.
"I think we'll have a good year," said Darensberries general manager Kevin Gee. "Every year starts with optimism for the coming year."
Gee pointed out recent cold weather has slowed production at the onset of the season.
"We had a little bumpy start in this late winter, early spring with the hail and the rain, but the weather has turned now," said Gee.
However, with the weather forecast showing warm days through this weekend, the season will begin to fully pick up over the next few weeks.
"Now that the weather has changed, there are going to start moving a little bit faster and producing berries at a pretty good pace," Gee said.
He added strawberry season in the Santa Maria Valley typically runs from April to October, with the season hitting its peak in May.
Darensberries, which has been one of the top strawberry farms on the Central Coast for many years, is set to open its popular strawberry stand on Betteravia Road this Thursday morning.
A mile away at The Berry Stop on Stowell Road, the popular berry stand is already open for business.
"We have been hunting down the berries, trying to find some berries, and I think we found them!" said Jesse Cleveland Jr., while stopping by to purchase a flat.
Cleveland was among the many customers who said they're excited to see the return of strawberry season.
"Look at them," said Vicky Smith. "They're just so sweet, so good. I live in New Cuyama, so I eat them on the way home. They're half gone when we get there."
Business has been so strong at The Berry Stop, its recently run out of fruit several times before it closes at 4 p.m.
The stand is open Monday through Saturday, and is closed on Sundays.
The Berry Stop will be closed on Wednesday, March 31.
According to the most recent agriculture report from Santa Barbara County, strawberries are by far and away, the county's top crop, accounting for more than $571 million in 2019.
The 2020 Santa Barbara County agriculture production report is not expected to be released until June 2021.