Rain causes Arizona lettuce harvest delays

01/25/2010 10:47:56 AM
Dawn Withers

Growers faced muddy conditions in Yuma, Ariz., over the weekend as a powerful storm dropped record rainfall on the normally dry desert growing region.

Winter is prime time for lettuce in Yuma, when nearly all of California’s major lettuce grower-shippers relocate there to keep leafy green supplies consistent.

The Associated Press reported more than two inches of rain fell Jan. 22-23, with fresh vegetable harvesting at only 30% to 40% of capacity. Hardest hit is the harvesting of baby leaf mix, which is usually cut mechanically, according to the Associated Press.

Season-to-date shipments are down, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with western Arizona iceberg movement at 8,680 40,000-pound truckloads as of Jan. 24, compared with 9,333 truckloads in 2009. Romaine shipments from the area as of Jan. 24 were 4,425 truckloads, compared with 4,981 truckloads in 2009.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture isn’t reporting complete prices for lettuce from Yuma for Jan. 22 because of insufficient supplies. Cartons of 24-count iceberg are selling for close to $15, according to USDA, with 24s of romaine selling for up to $9.50.



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