A dry start to spring has yielded abundant supplies of high-quality, promotable California spinach.
Oxnard, Calif.-based Boskovich Farms Inc. finished its desert spinach deal the week of April 1 and will ship from Oxnard throughout the end of summer, said Don Hobson, vice president of sales.
Hobson reported a smooth transition from the desert to Oxnard.
“We didn’t have any rain, so there were no gaps,” he said. “Sometimes we’ll stay in the desert longer if Oxnard has rain.”
That lack of rain also has meant good quality at the beginning of the Oxnard season.
“Everything’s perfect,” he said. “There was no rain during planting, so the stands look good, and the yields are good. There should be plenty of supplies, and there are no mildew issues.”
Ample supplies of high-quality spinach from the Salinas Valley should be a welcome change of pace for retailers, who dealt with trying to move winter spinach at high prices, said Mark McBride, salesman for Salinas-based Coastline Produce.
“Supplies look good — hopefully what we have now looks pretty darn attractive,” McBride said. “We anticipate good movement and product. It’s been awhile since we had that combination.”
The cool, dry spring meant very little concern about decay, soft rot and other issues associated with wet, warm weather, McBride said.
“I think we’ll have a good spring with good quality, and hopefully it dovetails” into strong summer demand, he said.
Markets can often tighten during transitions, but because of the smooth transition this year, prices were in the $8-9 range in mid-April, and would likely stay in the $8-10 range for the rest of the month, barring mildew problems, Hobson said.
Salinas supplies also aren’t limited by weather, and in mid-April, Salinas, Oxnard and Santa Maria all were shipping at the same time, Hobson said.
On April 16, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $8.35-9.85 for cartons of bunched flat 24s, down from $10.25-11.61 last year at the same time.
Boskovich kicked off its organic spinach harvest April 16, Hobson said. The company expects its organic program to be up 20% this year.
Conventional spinach also is set to rise, by about 15%, he said.
“We picked up some extra business.”
A higher percentage of the spinach Boskovich harvests this year will likely be bagged, Hobson said.