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Extreme Heat & Smoke from the Wildfires Brings Challenges Today & In The Future

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The effect of scorching temperatures reaching over 110 degrees in August and again in September  in many growing regions,  including Salinas Valley and Bakersfield, will be cumulative . At any one time in vegetable row crops there are multiple plantings in the ground.  It might not be the planting that is currently being harvest that suffers, but plantings down the road.  What happens today might effect something scheduled to be harvested 60 -90 days from now. Think about this as not an event that happens and is over, but one whose effect we will see for the coming months.  Even the growers at times do not clearly see the quality issues for awhile.

The wildfires have brought weeks of smoke lingering across California.  The smoke is as troublesome for growers and field workers as it is for us as we go about our daily lives. It is just not possible to continue harvesting when the heat is excessive or lately when the smoke is above healthy levels.  We are seeing supply tighten up on many crops due to shorter harvest days.  The lack of sunlight due to the smoke  also slows down the actual growth of the plants. The harvesting in the fields that does happen is going slower because of social distancing requirement in the fields and in the production facilities.

What can you expect? 

*The issues with broccoli that we are seeing now in terms of quality and availability are actually from the first heat wave. Those plants were maturing when the heat wave hit. We are seeing some growers just walk away from entire planting because they have been damaged. Expect prices to continue to rise on lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, iceberg, sweet baby broccoli among others. 

*Dwelley Zucchini planting was destroyed by the heat.  We can look forward to Covilli starting their zucchini program earlier this year in mid-October.

* La Granjita and Durst cherry tomatoes are ripening up slowly due to the lack of sun and will be tight.

* Iceberg was burnt to a crisp and will be gapping this week.

* Anaheim chiles will be limited this week due to the lack of sun.

* Several Herb growers are reporting severe damage to crops, in particular basil, from the heat. The plants need a recovery period of at least 7-10 days, depending on crop damage it could be longer. 

*Snap Peas gapping for a week or so as they recover from the heat and sunburn.

*Artichokes put out thistles when it is too hot. Production has been reduced 50%. 

* Sunburn on hot pepper plants as well as tomato plants

* Strawberries were cooked by the heat. Expect strawberry volume to remain tight through at least the middle of the week.

* Maywood Farms in Corning is reporting that the ash from the wild fires and lack of sun is slowing down the ripening process and the green fruit in particular is very susceptible to quality issues. Expect all varieties to be tight again this week. 

* Excessive heat over the last month has stressed out the Valencia trees and caused the fruit to re-green and develop a green cast.  In order to protect themselves, the fruit trees begin the photosynthesis process and transfer energy in the form of nutrients from the fruit back into the tree.  Think of it as babies feeding the mother.  The condition of the fruit is also affected making the oranges weaker and shortening their shelf life.  Re-greening is a common physiological process that has affected our central valley growers harder than anticipated. We will be very tight on valencias and expect to see more choice than fancy.

If you missed our blogs on the August and September heat waves you can read them here:

Labor Day Heat Wave Affects Quality and Supply

Update on Crops Affected by Extreme Heat WavE

Extreme Heat Wave and Rain Storms Sweep Through California



Sunburned Heirloom Tomato Plants

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