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Salinas Valley seasonal temperatures off by as much as 15 degrees

US (CA): Lettuce and other vegetables slow down in growth

There’s been some very unusual weather in the Salinas Valley area lately, hurting lettuce, particularly iceberg. “I was just talking to an export customer about it. Typically in mid-August we have some nice very warm weather,” says Mark McBride, sales professional at Coastline Family Farms. “We can see 80 to 85 degree weather during this time period, and those temperatures are considered ‘hot’ in the Salinas area. But we’re going in the exact opposite.” The forecast isn’t supposed to climb out of the 60s this week. 

What that translates to over the long term is a slow down. McBride expressed that their seeds are developed for normal expectations weather-wise. “When we’re off 10-15 degrees on a daily basis we’re seeing a real slow down in growth on pretty much all of our vegetables. That coupled with some acreage reductions that we see around the valley, it’s given us some hope and I think we’re going to see some improvement on these markets – most all of them.” Although he doesn’t like to speculate on high the market could get, he’s hopeful for improved movement and improved demand – especially once kids get back to school and pricing should fall in line with that. “Back to school has a tendency to improve everybody’s diets and that always helps with the consumption of vegetables,” he notes.

Iceberg is the most affected lettuce, also head lettuce noting the biggest change in the short term. Iceberg lettuce has been maturing at an accelerated pace over the last several weeks, and McBride says this increased supply has put downward pressure on FOB prices. “Our recent cooling trend has slowed the maturation process and reduced volume.” McBride adds that iceberg does have a small presence with a small deal in Colorado, with leaf lettuces most heavily produced in the Ohio Valley and upstate New York. He says California is best for growing iceberg. “It’s tough to grow good iceberg in a lot of the places that grow other vegetables. “Iceberg is kind of its own monster.” Ideal growing conditions for iceberg lettuce include consistently mild, rain-free conditions— “and the Salinas Valley’s unique climate is perfectly suited to those needs.”

For more information:
Mark McBride
Coastline Family Farms
Ph: 831-755-1430
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