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PRO*ACT Crop Update: April 3

By
Tim Lynch

A very cold low-pressure system moves into California Thursday with light to moderate rain expected across the state. In fact, forecasts expect this system to bring the coldest temperatures of the year to California. The cold system will bring possible freeze and frost conditions to the inland valleys of Salinas and Santa Maria. 

strawberry Overall precipitation is forecast to be between 0.25 and 0.75 inches into Saturday. This system will also bring very strong winds of 20-35 miles per hour to California and the Southwestern Desert regions. Another weak system moves in on Sunday with a slight chance of rain, keeping the cold temperatures around the region into early next week.

The timing of these systems will not help growers as they continue the transition from the desert regions to the coastal valleys (Oxnard, Santa Maria and Salinas) of California. Crops in these coastal valleys have seen substantial rain and cool temperatures throughout the growth cycle impacting growth rates and grower activities/field work in these coastal valley regions. 

Early production is showing generally good quality with smaller head sizes and density contributing to lighter carton weights. Strawberry supplies from Southern California will once again receive a shot of rain and very strong winds impacting production in the near term.

As growers in the Southwest Desert region wrap up production over the next couple weeks, recent rains have increased mildew problems in the remaining leafy green stands. This may impact yields as growers attempt to stretch remaining acreage in the region. 

This latest system is forecast to bring very strong winds and a slight chance of showers across the low deserts into Monday. This will increase dehydration in the leafy green fields contributing to lesser texture and shelf life. Insect pressure continues to be a problem in these late fields. These late-season supplies will continue to show some premature pinking along the ribs that is not seen during harvest and tends to show up during storage. 

Processed items will likely see an increase in bruising, discoloration and breakdown showing up in the bag affecting quality and shelf life. It remains very important to keep your rotations in check as the overall quality and shelf life of most crops, especially processed items, will be challenged. 

At this point we will have to wait and see how the cold temperatures, winds and rain impact the numerous growing regions in production with upcoming weather patterns crucial to supplies and quality.

With over 30 years in the produce industry, Tim Lynch started as an inspector and advanced into quality control and food safety. Beyond work, he's an avid sports fan, relishing in activities like boating, fishing, and diving. Lynch attended Cal Poly SLO before making Marina his home since 1994.

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