AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventIn 2004, the Ventura County crop was valued at a record $363.6 million when 32.8 million trays were harvested. Last year, there were 38.8 million trays harvested despite rains that did nearly $25 million damage to the crop early in the year. The 2005 crop value might still be a record when final figures come in from the agricultural commissioner later this year, and 2006’s situation could brighten up substantially as well because more acres are planted. In 2004, there were 7,784 acres of strawberries planted in Ventura County for the spring harvest, compared to 8,033 in 2005 and 8,195 this year. “The peak production this year will be delayed, but once the weather starts heating up a bit, we should have a great spurt in production,” Buettner said. Carolyn O’Donnell, spokeswoman for the California Strawberry Commission, said about 16.9 million trays of strawberries had been produced in the Oxnard-Ventura County area by April 8, compared to 18.9 million at the same time last year. In Monterey County, where the strawberry season usually starts by the end of March, there are no berries because of the rain. “The berries we are buying now are coming from Oxnard, and they are pretty tasty,” said O’Donnell, whose office is in the Monterey Bay area. “… The growers know that this weather is going to break and we are going to go on with the season. What’s happening now is just delaying the season. It’s not going to rain forever, we hope. Once it stops raining and the sun comes out, we’re going to have lots of berries.” On the bright side, she said, Southern California growers are getting free water, and the berries might even wind up tasting better. [email protected] (805) 583-7602160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! OXNARD – The onslaught of late rains in March and April have cut strawberry production in Ventura County by 2 million trays at a time when the harvest would normally be at its highest point of the year. Still, agricultural officials are optimistic that the rains have simply delayed production and that warmer, drier weather will boost the numbers dramatically in time for this year’s California Strawberry Festival next month. “The soil is so moist and so wet it’s difficult to get into the fields to harvest the small amount of fruit we have right now,” said David Buettner, chief deputy agricultural commissioner for Ventura County. “It’s very difficult to get equipment in when we have these constant rains over a long period of time. We really need a couple days respite.” Strawberry production in Ventura County has been high in the past few years, in spite of near-record rains last year.