“It doesn’t take much with an East Coast snowstorm that shuts down an area for a few days and you’ll feel the ripple effect,” he said. “Trucks can’t get in, customers won’t buy.”
The difference a year makes
On Feb. 21, cartons of broccoli bunched 14s from California’s Imperial and Coachella valleys ran $6-7, down from $12.45-14.45 the year before, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Oxnard-grown celery in cartons of two dozen were $6-7 on Feb. 21, down from year-ago prices of $39.45-42.50.
And cauliflower cartons of film-wrapped 12s from Santa Maria were $6-7.50 on Feb. 21, down from $17 to $18.55 a year ago.
Trek to Salinas
Growers transitioning from Yuma, Ariz., or California’s desert regions to Huron will start the Huron deal around March 26.
“Those who don’t stop in Huron will go to south Monterey County,” Barrientos said. “Toward the end of March you’ll see leaf lettuce being harvested in the south county.”
From there, it’s less than an hour’s ride up Highway 101 to Salinas.
Salinas-based Coastline Produce started broccoli in the Imperial Valley around Dec. 10.
“Our schedule is to start some broccoli in the Salinas area the week of March 19,” said Mark McBride, sales manager. “Cold weather early in the season slowed growth and kept a lot of product from coming on in a timely fashion.
“But we’re pretty well caught up on all commodities — iceberg, romaine, leaf lettuce, celery and all our bunching items. January was nothing to get excited about pricewise. It’s typically on the dragging side, but unusually so this year. No big rains or washouts.”
Broccoli is one of those commodities whose start times vary. Pacific International Marketing planned to harvest some broccoli in Salinas in February.
In Santa Maria, the company will start its leaf, romaine and butter lettuces around March 12, said Henry Dill, sales manager. Head lettuce in Santa Maria comes on about April 9.
Salinas lettuce harvesting should begin in the April 19-23 timeframe, McBride said.
Carrots in good supply
Grimmway Farms, Bakersfield, will transition its carrots to the Imperial Valley the week of March 12, said Eric Proffitt, sales manager.
The Bakersfield carrot crop typically runs Thanksgiving to mid-March.
“We’ll be growing in the desert right on time,” Proffitt said.
Supplies of Grimmway’s cello carrots, jumbo carrots, baby carrots and organics are normal.