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Strong Romaine, Iceberg markets expected as freeze hits desert growing regions

By
Craig Levitt, managing editor

Temperatures dipped into the low 30s this morning causing widespread lettuce ice in the Arizona/California desert region. With low temperatures forecast, Markon Cooperative Inc. is projecting challenges through next week.

letuce
Photo courtesy of Markon.

Inconsistent weather patterns persist, as weather forecasts call for lettuce ice through Saturday, Feb. 26, before temperatures begin to warm next week. This latest freeze event will cause prolonged quality problems, lower yields and possibly supply challenges through the end of the desert growing season, according to Markon field inspectors.

“This week, Romaine pushed into the $20 range while Iceberg stayed somewhat flat in the low to mid-teens,” said Mark Shaw, vice president of operations for Markon. “All indicators are driving the Iceberg market upward next week. Growers are challenged with small head sizes and light weights. There has been a fair amount of 30-count boxes packed this week, and the outlook is for continued light weights next week, which will help drive the Iceberg market upward.

“Quality will also be a challenge,” Shaw continued. “Freezing temperatures this week, with warm temperatures forecast for next week, will create Epidermal Blister and Epidermal Peel challenges, along with heat-related issues.  Romaine will still lead the charge in the market, as it is poised to move through the $30 level next week.”

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