January 10, 2013

Desert Crops Suffering
From Winter Freezes

Just a quick update on current weather impacts on winter crops in Arizona and California.

Weather complications have affected vegetable production in the desert regions in Arizona’s Yuma and California’s Imperial and Coachella areas. Freezing temperatures this past weekend were the harshest yet for the season, taking their toll on production. Some crops were frozen until noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Initially, warmer temperatures in November and December put most winter crops way ahead of schedule. The 15-degree-warmer conditions in November and December caused growers in  these regions to use up crops intended to fill demand in late December and January. This has created a gap in production for the rest of January. The younger crops still needed warmth to grow but instead have faced freezing conditions over the past few weeks.

The freeze has resulted in blistering on the lettuces in particular, causing the “epidermis” to start to fall apart (this is what causes that browning on the ribs of lettuce you see from time to time during the winter months). Industry wide, the desert- growing region could see reductions of nearly 30 percent across all crops with broccoli taking a significant hit of approximately 50 percent. Demand from stores and food-service companies over the holiday season further motivated growers to accelerate their harvests. More cold weather is anticipated this month, which could mean further reductions in supply. Growers anticipate industry-wide shortages in all row-crop vegetables in general through January. Expect to see some frost damage in all row crops! Hardest hit at this point are the lettuces, leafy greens, broccoli and artichokes.

Hopefully this situation is short lived and will be behind us as soon as possible.

Have a good day and stay warm!



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