Cold Snap Hits Agricultural Areas Hard
We have passed through the shortest days of the year which meant less sun, slowing down the growth of everything. A severe cold snap is now affecting most of the agricultural areas in California, Arizona and Northern Mexico hindering the growth and harvest of all produce. Plants can be severely damaged if harvested before they thaw out so growers will need to wait to harvest until late morning losing precious harvesting hours. Where a grower might typically start harvesting at 6am, they are having to wait until 10am when the weather has warmed up. We can expect availability to be tight, prices to go up and to see quality defects on leafy items. Though it is going to slowly warm up there are some long term effects worth consideration:
Prices will continue to stay high until the supply side stabilizes. The thing to remember is that most of the US is pulling produce from the same area that we do at this point in the season. Demand is great – supply isn’t. To see one of the last true examples of a supply and demand economic model look no further than the fruit and veg industry. There are no price supports, no subsidies and you can charge as little as you want or as much as you want. It either sells or it doesn’t so to speak. Organics is a smaller industry so prices are even more reactive in a time like this. We can expect to see high prices for at least a few more weeks on all cool season wet veg. Warm weather crops will also be high but because many of these are greenhouse/hothouse grown the supply side has not been affected as much as the field grown crops.
Price and quality do not track side by side. Often higher prices reflect difficult growing conditions and veg has more cosmetic challenges than we are used to. Most vegetables are comprised mainly of water and water expands when it freezes causing various types of defects. Epidural peel occurs when the outer layer of the leaf freezes, partially dies and then begins to peel. The leaf will have a translucent look. Tip burn happens when the leaf cells break down from extreme temperature causing the outer edges of the leaves to turn black. Cracking can be seen along the stem or ribs and slight frost damage is noticeable on outside leaves. Blistering causing the epidermis on the outside leaves to begin to fall apart.
Planting, transplanting and germination of seeds can be very hard or delayed when the ground becomes real cold or freezes. Down the line in about 40-60 days we will start to see the gaps in supply caused by the planting challenges of today.
Continue to check our posts and social media sites for updates. In the meantime bundle up and stay warm!