Salinas deal kicks off with high volumes, low prices

04/26/2013 03:32:00 PM
Mike Hornick

“We call cauliflower the temperamental commodity,” said Gabriela D’Arrigo, saleswoman and marketing coordinator for D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California.

“We do a three-hour count making sure we’ve got the right numbers, but it can change in two-degree temperatures drops. Your numbers change and fluctuate all the time.”

In April, Salinas had several consecutive nights of nighttime temperatures in the mid-40s. Nothing sensational, but it brought cauliflower growth to a screeching halt, McBride said. If nights grow warmer, volumes could come on rapidly.

Butch Corda, general manager for Ippolito International, said early concerns that the valley’s vegetables might start a week late — partly due to slow arriving rainfall — didn’t materialize.

“The fields and crops here have good stands and good quality,” Corda said. “It looks to be a smooth transition.”

Two important crops — brussels sprouts and celery — return to production in Salinas in June.

In April growers waited to see whether seeders pressure develops on Oxnard-grown celery, a seasonal risk for that crop.

Artichokes grow in Castroville even in winter, but April and May are the peak months. This year is no exception.

“Quality is the best it’s been in several years and supplies are excellent,” said Dale Huss, vice president of artichoke production for Castroville-based Ocean Mist Farms.

Artichokes benefited from moderate March temperatures.

“Growing conditions have been ideal,” Huss said.

While vegetable markets overall were depressed, that could change, said Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development for Church Bros. LLC.

“I would probably agree there’s some overplanting,” Van Eeghen said.

“In the winter the prices were through the roof and the markets were tight, and we farmers react to that. I would guess we’re a bit long here but that’s going to correct itself in time. It’s very cyclical.”

Acreage adjustments never end, Duda said. His company planned increases for fresh-cut celery, but minor shifts overall.

“We’ve been trying to get our numbers right for the midsummer and not compete as much with the homegrown areas,” he said. “We’re trying to right-size our programs for that.”


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