Latinos now comprise two-thirds of strawberry growers in California, where 90 percent of the nation’s strawberries are grown, according to The Associated Press.
For the $2.3 billion strawberry industry, it’s the second time a minority group has emerged from the fields in such a profound way. Japanese immigrants took over the industry as they grew in numbers after the turn of the 20th century.
Like the Japanese, many Latino growers are former pickers or the children of field workers who worked their way up to rent or own land.
Because strawberries can be grown on small plots nearly year-round and can yield more fruit and revenue per acre than most other agricultural crops, it’s easier for immigrants to get into the business, said Hal Johnson, who has developed varieties of strawberries since 1955 for California’s largest berry shipper-growers.
Here is a video of the Ponce family who sell strawberries to one of the largest distributors, Driscoll. Rogelio Ponce Sr. and his son grew the business started by his father, Francisco Ponce, who was a bracero farm worker.