THE GREAT FREEZE OF 2013 – OR WAS IT???
By Robert Lichtenberg- Head of Purchasing
In February, 2011 there was a freeze of historic size – record low temps in the Imperial and Yuma Valleys, Northern Mexico and the upper and mid Baja peninsula. Basically if a veg crop was not in a protected environment – i.e. greenhouse or shade house- it was damaged. This occurred at a point in the season where warm weather veg had already been planted in the Californian deserts.
This year the frost of 2013 lasted for multiple days and nights, though it did not go as far south as before and the lows were not record lows. Frost damage occurs as a result of a combination of things; the actual temperature, the duration of that temperature, the soil moisture and the age of the plants. Some crops, like kale, can freeze solid, thaw out and be fine; this process can happen multiple times and the kale will actually become sweeter. For other crops, one event below 32 degrees is basically a killing frost for that item, resulting in black and dead crops. Summer squash and tomatoes are very good examples of cold sensitive crops.
This year on the wet veg front, we have seen some damage on celery and romaine mostly consisting in light tip burn and slight epidermal peel. Green and red leaf lettuce seems OK. There have been some reports of lost cauliflower crops. The desert and Yuma wet veg crops are just in the beginning of harvesting from the first plantings and supply still seems strong. An overall “rough” appearance is to be expected on leafy items for the next 2-3 weeks.
Citrus in the lower San Joaquin Valley was affected to some degree – these include but not limited to – Murcotts, Grapefruits, Satsumas and Navel Oranges. These crops are still being evaluated and it will take 2-3 weeks to fully understand the extent of the damage.
As always we will do our best to keep you informed.