Yuma, Arizona region offers up its own challenges for lettuce supplies

It feels like Mother Nature keeps coming to North America’s lettuce supplies as they continue to be limited. Lettuce volume at the end of the Salinas Valley, California store has been reduced due to soil diseases, including Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV), which plague much of the valley.

Next up were water challenges in Huron, California. “We’re in the process of completing the transition to the desert, and it’s been tough,” says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms. “The water allocations over in the Huron area have been cut drastically because of our drought conditions. So the lettuce acreage was greatly reduced and that led to a number of companies, including us, which went to Salinas shortly thereafter. There were a few companies that had acreage in Oxnard and total supplies were down.”

Then came Yuma, Arizona, an area where growers started a bit earlier due to shortages in other regions. “We started on November 4th because of the heat we experienced. Although the lettuce was very young, it tended to have a seed stalk. When the lettuce is shocked, it goes into “replica mode”. So we had to get all that young lettuce that was due to be harvested in early November in there even earlier to keep the seed stalk from blowing through the top of the head,” says McBride, noting that it can happen if it blows through. not be packed. “We packed 25-28 pound boxes to salvage as much of the fields as possible and that was the case for the first two weeks we were in Yuma.”

Cool in Yuma
Now the weather in Yuma, which tends to get cooler at this time of year, has actually turned unusually cool much earlier than normal, usually in mid-December. “Most people should start in Yuma around the 15th. Because of the cold weather that started earlier this week, it slowed down growth and everyone’s got going now, but people were five to six days late in their start,” he says.

This has left some inconsistent fields – some of which have produced good size 24 heads, while others are growing smaller heads of lettuce. So all in all even more frustration. “It’s like – my goodness, what’s going to happen next?” says McBride. “Additionally, processors in their fields are also seeing a decline in pounds per acre and have purchased additional acreage to meet their needs.”

As demand remains strong thanks to these limited supplies, prices are likely to remain high for the foreseeable future. “At least until we have an extended period of normalcy and get the crop back on a certain schedule,” says McBride. “We start the winter season in the desert and there are always weather challenges like ice and rain. You can have the mild weather that the desert is known for, but then a storm comes along or a cold front and then there are challenges.” He also adds that the size and weight issues the industry is currently seeing will last at least until will stop at the end of the Christmas train.

For more informations:
Markus McBride
Family farms on the coast
Tel: +1 (831) 755-1430
[email protected]

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