Weather slows start to Salinas season - The Packer

Weather slows start to Salinas season

05/21/2009 04:27:04 PM
Dawn Withers

SALINAS, Calif. — With a somewhat bumpy start to the Salinas Valley season, early yields for some leafy greens have been low, creating short-term supply gaps for some of the area’s major crops.
 
Cooler temperatures, coupled with a few days of record-breaking heat, also have not helped the uneven start to the season, though quality remains high for the area’s major commodities, with most growers hitting peak volumes late April.

“As an industry there wasn’t a (supply) gap,” said Joe Ange, product manager for Markon Cooperative.

Some companies did have lighter supplies transition from Huron, Calif., to Salinas, Ange said, and some had supply gaps, though nothing that caused severe shortages in volume overall.

The mostly cold spring weather has slowed growth of iceberg lettuce, reducing weight in early crops, and caused some romaine blistering, but nothing that has caused major drops in volume, growers said. The first lettuce crops were harvested in early to mid-April, with few companies still transitioning from Huron by the end of the month.

“It’s late. The deal started late,” said Sammy Duda, vice president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, a fresh division of A. Duda & Sons Inc., Oviedo, Fla. Duda said the company’s spring program started about five days later into April than usual, mostly because of cold weather. Duda said there also were delays and short supply gaps for leaf lettuce during the transition from Huron, where winter leafy greens are grown for about four weeks, to Salinas.

For commodities, including broccoli, Duda said early quality is “fair to good,” because of fluctuating weather in late winter and early spring, though quality should even out and improve as the season heads towards summer.

Tom Nunes Jr., president of The Nunes Co. Inc., said leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower are coming in at normal yields and good quality. Transitioning from Huron didn’t present any gaps or quality problems, Nunes said.

“There wasn’t much of an overlap,” Nunes said.

Boggiatto Produce Inc., ranks as another company with a smooth transition back to Salinas from the Imperial Valley.

President Michael Boggiatto said volumes for the company’s early Salinas crops — baby iceberg, broccoli, romaine hearts and romaine — are good, as is the quality. Weather did not dramatically affect crops, Boggiatto said, as production picks up in late spring.

“It’s not slow,” Boggiatto said.

Rick Antle, president of Tanimura & Antle, said the weather has delayed the company’s crops but the company is looking to expand acreage on some its products to keep up with customer demand.


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