Ice gathers in a Yuma, Ariz., area iceberg lettuce field Feb. 3.
Lettuce growers in the Yuma, Ariz., area have suffered a freeze that turned out to be several degrees cooler than some forecasts predicted.
âIt was 25 degrees in the south Yuma Valley,â said John DâArrigo, president of Salinas, Calif.-based DâArrigo Bros. Co. âSomerton was 29 degrees at 8:30 a.m. (Feb. 3). Thatâs bone cold. Lettuce canât handle it.â
The Yuma deal had already seen threatening weather, beginning with a New Years Day weekend freeze. Peeling and an airborne sclerotinia fungus dropped some growersâ yields by 10% to 20%. While the extent of the new damage is unclear, the supply shortage is likely to continue if not worsen.
DâArrigo predicts at least another six weeks of problems.
âWeâre in for a wild ride,â he said. âItâs going to be difficult to make your top grade. A lot will have to go into secondary labels. The industry will have to be careful about quality control as crop moves around the country. You canât have these temperatures without showing heavy blistering and freeze burns and potentially a decay-and-rot situation in transit.
âIâve never in my lifetime seen this amount of ice and cold in Yuma. Maybe the oldtimers have seen it.â