Summer lettuce harvest shows good quality

07/27/2009 10:46:24 AM
Dawn Withers

For romaine, the USDA listed prices of $12.35-13.50 for 24s. Romaine hearts in cartons of 12s sold for $16.56-17.50, and romaine hearts in film-lined cartons of 48s sold for $16.45-22.

Green leaf in 24s sold for $6.45-7.56.

Kevin Jordan, director of sales and marketing for Santa Maria-based Adam Bros. Produce Sales Inc., said frost early in the season caused some initial quality problems but summer production is generating high quality with good yields.

“Quality at the beginning the deal was definitely up and down,” Jordan said.

Adam Bros.’s largest commodity is romaine, Jordan said.

Salinas-area growers said that because of optimal growing conditions they are getting up to 1,500 boxes of head lettuce from lots that normally produce around 800 boxes.

Supply and demand

Another aspect of summer production is adjusting acreage to compensate for homegrown produce that ships to East Coast markets and temporarily reduces demand for California-grown lettuce.

Gray said demand for leaf lettuces adjusts up to 20% when homegrown production begins to peak in July though by September. The company adjusts acreage back up when the relatively shorter growing reason for Midwest and East Coast productions ends.

Jordan said the company doesn’t make any acreage change for homegrown production.

Growers said they usually scale lettuce acreage back by less than 10% to compensate for the shift in demand and plan their seasons to accommodate for this yearly change.

“Every year we do it,” said Steve Church, vice president and director of operations for Church Bros. LLC.

Church said it mostly affects the company’s July and August production plans with an adjustment of about 10% in acreage.

Matt Seeley, vice president of marketing for The Nunes Co., said the company also scales back its production during midsummer months and said overall quality is consistent and good as the deal enters its halfway point for the year.

“We’ve had better growing conditions this summer,” Seeley said.


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