California and the West Coast Weathers the Storm
WEST COAST, U.S. - Before Thanksgiving, we reported on a massive bomb cyclone expected to hit California over the holiday weekend. With Turkey Day come and gone, the state is now recuperating from more than just low temperatures and heavy rain. Communities across Southern California were particularly disrupted, as many saw roughly four feet of snow on Thanksgiving. As California and the West provides some of the most prominent growing regions for the fresh produce industry, many companies are now assessing the impact that this weather will have on their crops.
“In Yuma, Arizona, where we are growing key items including leaf lettuce, romaine, iceberg lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, and some celery, Thanksgiving brought in about a half an inch to an inch of rain, depending on the area, and delayed harvest and some planting—but the storm has not impacted the quality much, which is looking good at present,” C.R. Waters, Desert Operations Manager for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, shared. “The great thing about the rain is it has kept the ice conditions away. We do have another chance of rain on Wednesday.”
For the conditions in California, Duda had additional updates as well.
“The recent weather system that came through California did not have any effects on our Salinas operations as we no longer have any crops in the ground,” Greg Lewis, Director of Western Farming Operations for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, added. For Duda’s Oxnard, California, operations, the team reports approximately 2.5 inches of rain. “We received rain in Oxnard as well, but are fortunate because there were no strong winds which can impact the celery when the crop becomes top-heavy in rainy conditions. Currently, celery has no quality damage. The harvest was slowed down but has not stopped. There is more rain coming on Wednesday as well and despite the challenges with the inclement weather, we welcome rain here in California.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, mountain communities in SoCal experienced widespread power outages that began on Thanksgiving Day and carried on through Sunday. Temperatures over the weekend stayed consistent, remaining in the 40- to 20-degree range. The California Department of Transportation reported closures on State Route 18 and limited access via State Route 138 east of Interstate 15.
With domestic citrus coming on strong, we checked in with some additional California friends for an update as well.
“Fowler Packing is well positioned coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday with strong demand from both the east and west coasts,” Sean Nelsen, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Fowler Packing, says. “We are receiving strong feedback from our customers about the quality of the Peelz mandarins being packed right now. Looking ahead, we are in good shape to withstand the current weather pattern of rain throughout California. Fowler Packing is vertically integrated, which gives us complete control of how this fruit is harvested. We have planned ahead to ensure we have enough fruit to cover all orders for our Peelz Partners. Our state of the art packinghouse allows us to continue to pack the highest quality of fruit even though wet weather offers some challenges. Supply assurance is a competitive advantage for our Peelz Partners and we are focused on keeping our customers fully stocked through this extended period of rain.”
For premium categories including California table grapes, Giumarra Vineyards gives us the deets as well.
“We only have a few grapes left to harvest but they are covered with plastic and have made it through without issue,” Randy Giumarra, Vice President of Sales, Giumarra Vineyards tells me. “As always, Giumarra Vineyards will be shipping strong California grapes through the month of December while starting the shift into Peruvian imports on the East Coast in an effort to help our customers make a smooth transition.”
Additional grape growers tell us that the recent weather comes at the end of the California grape harvest for many as well. Much of the crop was already picked prior to the rain and there are still good supplies in cold storage to ship through December as other growers wrap up the tail end of the state's program.
Additionally, communities in the high desert saw heavy snow that is extremely rare for the region. With four to five inches of snow, the desert reached the mid-40s on Sunday and began to see more moderate weather the remainder of the weekend. Low temperatures throughout the state are expected to continue well into this week, with heavy rain reaching the Bay Area as well.
With such inclement weather, how have West Coast growing operations managed to stay afloat? Stay tuned in to AndNowUKnow as we release the latest updates on the state of the winter crops.