Cold affecting lettuce crop in California, Arizona
Cold temperatures in the California and Arizona desert growing regions are causing ice to form on lettuce crops. While no immediate quality impact is expected, Markon Cooperative’s quality assurance inspectors are actively monitoring for ice-related challenges in the coming days.
“Lettuce ice in the Arizona/California desert is a common variable the produce industry must wade through each winter,” said Mark Shaw, vice president of operations for Markon. “Weather patterns change from year to year, and this year has been no exception. The season started off very mild, producing ideal growing conditions that pushed the industry toward a supply-exceeds-demand situation in the Iceberg and leafy greens categories. But if lettuce ice continues through January, we will see supplies tighten and prices increase.”
According to Markon officials, widespread lettuce ice developed Dec. 16 as temperatures in the California and Arizona desert growing regions dropped into the upper 20s to low 30s. Markon added that harvesting crews for lettuce and other crops are delayed up to three hours or until heads fully thawed when ice occurs.
With forecasts calling for more cold weather and lettuce ice over the next few days harvesting and loading delays can be expected through early next week.