Church Brothers Farms Jason Lathos Talks Active Iceberg Market Amid Tight Transition
HURON, CA - Mother Nature has served up more tricks than treats this autumn, her latest being to bring the heat in the Salinas Valley before cooling things down in time to make the iceberg transition to the next region—Huron, California, for some and Yuma, Arizona, for many. According to Church Brothers Farms’ Jason Lathos, while challenging, it’s all a part of the growing formula.
“We are in the middle of transitioning from Salinas with Huron still going. We are one of a handful of growers operating in Huron before making the move to Yuma, and this year it is paying off with iceberg quality looking very good. I would call what we are seeing here a premium pack—very fancy,” Jason says.
This year was a perfect storm for a dynamic market, he shares, with Salinas wrapping early and seeing medium-quality while Yuma is just getting started. Despite the challenges, demand has been highly active as growers work to keep the supply up to par.
“We are seeing a gap in the transition. In the Salinas Valley, we saw three major heat waves compounded with a new virus, called Impatiens, which ultimately affects yield, resulting in an active market that we have been seeing fluctuate since September,” Jason explains. “I would say it’s fair to forecast higher prices due to lack of volume to cover the demand in the coming weeks.”
In addition to natural variables, there is a new outlier to the iceberg formula Jason points out: an increase in demand in Canada.
“Right now, stricter Canadian policies on accepting romaine lettuce into the country has had a ripple effect on iceberg. The short-term effect of a potential romaine issue—one we haven’t seen but that buyers are planning for based on the past couple of years—has made for greater iceberg demand,” he reflects.
While the market is still active trending toward tight, Jason says that the early forecasts for Yuma look good once the region has a chance to get on track.
“A few different variables have changed up the formula this year, but we are planning for it and overall it looks like we will soon be back to normal,” Jason assures.
As suppliers continue to work their magic on an unorthodox year, we will continue to report the trials and triumphs at AndNowUKnow.