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Severe Cold Snap Update

By now everyone knows that most agricultural areas in California, Arizona and Northern Mexico have been under a severe cold snap.

Though it is going to slowly warm up there are some long term effects worth consideration:

#1 Prices will continue to stay high until the supply side stabilizes. 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.  In organics because it is a smaller industry prices are even more reactive in a time like this. So expect to continue for at least a few weeks to see very high prices on all cool season wet veg.  Warm weather crops will also be high though but because many of these are greenhouse/hothouse grown the supply side has not been affected as much as the field grown crops.

#2 Unfortunately price and quality do not track side by side. Often higher prices reflect difficult growing conditions ( like now) and veg have more cosmetic challenges than we are used to. Repeated frost leads to tip burn on leafy veg, epidural peel on the outside of leaves and stunts growth.  Remember most veg are mostly water and water when it freezes expands.  At one end of the spectrum the cell wall bursts and the plant turn black and dies, AKA the dreaded killing frost.  At the other end of the spectrum there is a slow deterioration of the leaves leading to a kind of listless dull appearance and a general rough look.

#3 When the ground gets real cold and/or freezes planting/transplanting is hard or delayed as is the germination of seeds.  Down the line in about 40-60 days we will start to see the gaps in supply caused by the planting challenges of today.


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