his is always a very interesting and volatile time of year in the produce business... Growers that have been turning Yuma into Americas salad bowl* begin the "transition" from the Arizona desert to California's coastal valleys. Even on the occasion that this "transition" doesn't cause major gaps, it always results in uncertainty. These growers not only "transition" their growing, they must "transition" the equipment and labor for the most part as well. Not a minor undertaking!
Let's just take a brief snap shot of the last few weeks... weather had been amazing all winter long in Yuma and production was ahead of schedule, forcing growers to California early, no biggie, right? Well then Yuma gets a freeze that hurts the final harvest and then The California coast gets crazy rain, three times in three weeks and BOOM! Now things are disrupted;
- Crops in the ground have been stunted due to saturated ground and limited sunshine.
- Planting delays because farmers cannot get into the fields, which pushes back harvest dates.
prices go up, quality comes down... how bad, hard to tell. My guess is a 10-day production gap, but it's all up to mother nature.
***Yuma: Growing 90 percent of the nation's leafy vegetables from November-March, producing up to 50,000 acres each of head lettuce and romaine, about 12,000 acres of broccoli, 3,500 acres of cauliflower, 6,800 acres of spinach etc......... OK worth mentioning as well; Yuma is Arizona's top producer of lemons, tangelos, and tangerines, and leads in watermelon and cantaloupe cultivation. It takes approximately 45,000 workers to harvest the fields and work in the nine salad plants that produce bagged salad mixes. During peak production months, it's said that each of those plants processes more than two million pounds of lettuce per day.