Santa Maria spring vegetables are off to a good start, with good spring weather following a mild winter.
“The weather has been ideal for growing,” said Henry Dill, sales manager of Pacific International Marketing Inc., Salinas, Calif.
Pacific International didn’t have any significant weather-related gaps in supplies this season, Dill said. The company markets year-round supplies of broccoli and cauliflower from the Santa Maria growing region. It also markets lettuces, spinach, cilantro, cabbages and other Santa Maria-grown vegetables.
Paul Allen, owner and president of Santa Maria, Calif.-based Main Street Produce, also said the spring weather has been good for growing.
Although Main Street’s fields received about 2 inches of rain in mid-March, rainfall totals for the year were about half of normal. Main Street pumped water from wells to run through its drip irrigation systems, and its crops looked good in late March, Allen said.
Ande Manos, saleswoman for Babé Farms, Santa Maria, said this year has been relatively cool and dry.
“We had some really cold overnight temperatures back in December that really stifled the growth of a lot of root crops and set us back a bit,” she said.
While the crops can handle occasional cold, several consecutive days of low temperatures that can take a toll, she said. Manos said Babé Farms, which uses sprinklers and drip irrigation, had to water its crops “quite a bit more” than usual.
Spring brought better conditions, though, and Babé Farms has better availability of specialty carrots, beets and radishes, Manos said in late March. The company was gearing up for the Easter push for root vegetables.
Dan Sutton, general manager of Pismo-Oceano Vegetable Exchange, Oceano, Calif., also said in late March that Santa Maria-area crops were doing well and vegetable quality was good.
Pismo-Oceano specializes in Asian vegetables, including bok choy, napa cabbage, shanghai (baby) bok choy and broccoli. It also markets lettuce, cabbage, cilantro and parsley.
Because the weather had been mild and dry, the company’s growers didn’t miss many scheduled plantings.
“We’ve been able to get into our fields pretty promptly,” Sutton said.
Because there weren’t many of the usual planting delays, early-season volumes were larger than usual.
Grower-shippers said demand for Santa Maria spring crops was low initially because of excess supplies from the region and other growing areas.
The Santa Maria-area vegetable crops were on schedule in early spring, Dill said, but that wasn’t necessarily good because it resulted in an overlap with some delayed crops in the Yuma, Ariz., desert area.
“We didn’t really get started in Santa Maria when we wanted to because of market conditions,” Dill said. “But the outlook is that everything looks to be lined up.”
In late March, spring crops were looking good for Beachside Produce, Guadalupe, Calif., said Steve Adlesh, director of sales and marketing. The company expects larger volumes of broccoli and romaine hearts this season as compared to last. Its romaine heart production will likely be up by about 65%, in part because it added acreage through a new partnership with Santa Maria grower Innovative Produce.
In addition to broccoli, its main crop, and romaine hearts, Beachside markets cello-wrapped lettuce and artichokes. Spring artichoke production looked good, Adlesh said in late March.
Although the crop was running too late to permit big Easter promotions, Adlesh said he expected to see good volumes beginning in mid-April. He said he expects yields to be up this season because of the mild winter.