SALINAS, Calif. — With spring quality issues largely over, California lettuce growers report strong yields and high quality as production continues into summer.
| Photos by Dawn Withers|
Crews harvest iceberg lettuce for Church Bros. near Chualar, Calif. The iceberg is sold under the company’s True Leaf Farms and Red Coach labels.
Though mildew and leaf burn continue to cause small problems on romaine and iceberg, higher, less humid temperatures are helping prevent problems from spreading, growers said, and keep yields and harvesting schedules consistent as many growers finish their second plantings of the season.
“Production has been pretty good,” said Salinas-based Bob Gray, chief executive officer of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Oviedo, Fla.
The more consistent weather seen in June and July — cooler mornings with warm and sunny afternoons — helps even out how quickly lettuce matures and reduces irregularities, Gray said.
“It’s been unusual weather,” said Sammy Duda, vice president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods.
Though erratic weather caused some mild quality issues for Coastline Produce, Mark McBride, sales office manager, said quality is high and consistent as the harvesting continues through summer.
“Overall, we’re seeing good production on all of our produce,” McBride said.
|A worker packs green leaf lettuce for Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, Calif., near the company’s offices. The packed boxes are cooled before being shipped to the company’s foodservice and retail customers.|
The season has also seen prices for lettuce fluctuate since early spring, from high-teens to $7 per carton, depending on the variety.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on July 13 f.o.b.s for film-lined 24s of iceberg sold for $7.45-9.56, with 24s film-wrapped going for $8.45-10.56, and 30s film-wrapped selling for $7-8.