Winter Veg Hit Hard by Winter Storms
The California desert and Arizona growing regions have been hit hard by storms and temperatures are now warming up. As a result we are seeing a lot of aphids and mildew and this will continue until we see an unusual very early end to the season historically. We expect these challenges to continue through late March. These fields will not “cleanup” at this point. The damage is done, the pests and diseases are liking the warmth, and they are there to stay.
All of the leafy greens and brassicas are highly susceptible to aphid pressure. On broccoli we can expect to see unevenness in color, texture and shape of the crown, the occasional opened buds, possible small brown spots and other damage caused by a myriad of viral and fungal diseases. Lettuce might have some aphids but most likely will show signs of mildew on the outside leaves leading to breakdown and discoloration on the top side of the leaf. Butter lettuces are less mildew tolerant as they grow closer to the ground. Bunched spinach is generally unavailable. On both loose and clam salad mixes we will see reduced shelf life due to the fragility of leaves growing under low light conditions because of the lack of sun. The breakdown of leaves, mildew, discoloration/yellowing are all being observed.
Concurrently the Salinas Valley and most agricultural regions in California that traditionally should follow right behind the desert deal will also come in late. Brutal storms and gaps in planting opportunities due to muddy fields and rain will lead to both disease problems and gaps in product down the road in mid-April into the month of May. Retail ads will be hard to come by on cool season vegetables.
The uncertainty involved, plus the gaps to come, combined with decreased production due to disease/insect pressure will invariably lead to higher and volatile pricing. We will continue to work with our grower partners to provide the highest quality product available and to keep everyone informed.