Duda Farm Fresh Foods and D’Arrigo Brothers Lend Insights on Salinas' Vegetable Programs
SALINAS, CA - While the weather in California has been cooling down this week, the warmer-than-expected summer has caused the need for a little restrategizing—just ask some growers in the state’s Salinas Valley. While Mother Nature can at times be challenging, Salinas Valley growers are continuing to provide quality product with practices in place to avoid unnecessary losses of product and to mitigate the issues caused by the recent heat wave in California. I spoke with Duda Farm Fresh Foods and D’Arrigo Brothers to get a few insights on their current programs in Salinas.
“Last week’s heat wave did cause a lot of issues that had to be dealt with. Harvest crews were left with little to no options other than to work shorter hours to avoid mid-day temperatures, and keep unwanted heat illness issues at bay. With reduced work hours came lowered daily totals of harvested product leaving the fields,” Martin W. Jefferson, Duda’s Production Manager for Northern California tells me.
For the retail and foodservice community, Martin reminds me that although this summer and last week’s heat wave have created multiple challenges, some resulting in a fluctuating supply, Duda is prepared and will continue to do its best at producing, shipping the best vegetables available.
Even though the heat wave was a major challenge, Duda’s team of harvest managers and growers did an excellent job of staying on top of fields and avoiding unnecessary losses of product from heat related issues.
“At times like these, the communication between our growers, PCA’s, harvest managers and sales personnel is more critical than ever. Product maturity, irrigation and inputs, harvest efficiency, and demand are a sample of all the items that have to be recognized and prioritized in order to deliver a high quality product that makes customers happy and still contributes to the bottom line,” Martin adds.
On D’Arrigo’s front, John Scherpinski, Director of Sales for D’Arrigo Bros. Co., of CA, echos the same challenges with harvesting hours. “The heat in the Salinas Valley from last week really set the company’s crews back in regards to harvest capabilities. Most days our crews stopped work after 6-7 hours when the temperature continued to increase,” he tells me.
The shortage of harvest hours and supplies were compounded when this occurred 4 to 5 days in a row for D’Arrigo. Currently, D’Arrigo’s lettuce volumes are really tight followed by romaine and romaine heart supplies. Although quality defects from the heat seem to be minimal, the selection and grading processes in the field are slowing crews as well.
“These setbacks have drastically affected the industry since we cannot keep up with demand,” John says. “Markets have the potential to continue to rise through the month of September. The North West finished their local season a bit earlier than normal and the East Coast seems to be right on their heels.”
Processors seem to be light in supplies as well and looking for additional supplies to support their programs. “This is just adding to the demand in our marketplace,” he adds.
Despite a few setbacks with the weather last week, however, it looks to be cooling down in the Salinas Valley this week. California saw record rains and cooler than expected temperatures earlier this week, granting some relief to the state's growers. We're looking forward to seeing how this cooler weather will help mitigate some of the region's issues.