What is the most popular strawberry cultivar grown in California?

It depends on what year(s) you’re interested in and if you’re talking about public or proprietary cultivars. For example, if you’re talking about 2022, ‘Monterey’ was the most popular public cultivar, grown on 10,003 acres or 33.4% of the total acreage grown in the state.

Proprietary cultivars are those held by private companies such as Driscoll’s or Plant Sciences where the planted acres are not reported by individual cultivar but rather as a group. In 2022, proprietary cultivars were planted on 11,547 acres, or 37.4% of the total acreage. Since “proprietary” represents several cultivars, ‘Monterey’ is clearly the most popular cultivar grown in California at this time.

However, if you’re thinking more historically, say over the last 20 to 30 years, you have to dig through more data and ‘Monterey’ wasn’t even released until 2008.

Bar race charts are a great way to visualize this kind of data over time. I created this one (Fig. 1) showing the planted acres of all reported cultivars over the last 30 years (1993 to 2023). It’s fun to watch!

Figure 1. Bar race chart showing the planted acres of the most popular strawberry cultivars grown in California over the past 30 years. Chart created using Flourish (https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/12223756/embed)

Made with Flourish

The bar race chart above coupled with the horizontal bar chart below gives a good view of how dynamic this aspect of the strawberry industry is. This scenario will be different in every strawberry production area of the world because there are lots of cultivars and lots of places where strawberries are grown.

Figure 2. The 10 most popular public strawberry cultivars grown in California over the last 30 years. Total planted acres was determined by the sum of planted acres in each of 30 years (1993 to 2023). Source: California Strawberry Commission Acreage Reports. This slide is taken from a presentation delivered at the North American Strawberry Symposium on 28 March 2023 in San Luis Obispo, CA.

Over the last 30 years, Camarosa (released in 1994) was the most popular cultivar, planted on a total of 112,255 acres. Albion is the second most popular cultivar and Monterey is third. Here’s the kicker: Camarosa and Albion are hardly grown anymore in California, while Monterey is still the most popular cultivar. That means that Monterey will soon exceed Albion and Camarosa. How long will Monterey reign supreme and what will be the next cultivar to become this popular? Stay tuned…