Lakeside Organic Gardens' Dick Peixoto Discusses Iceberg Market, Quality, and Foreseeable Issues
WATSONVILLE, CA - A special alert recently cropped up on Iceberg lettuce, as the market has become super tight due to quality issues and lower yields. In order to get a better read on the situation and how growers are working through the issues, I spoke with Dick Peixoto, Owner of Lakeside Organic Gardens.
“Our season here in Pajaro Valley, California, is winding down and we’ll have limited supplies for another month before we transition down south and harvest at the beginning of December,” Dick began. “Across the board, head lettuce is very tight, and our yields are lighter than normal. But it’s not just us. Many leaf and head lettuce growers in the Pajaro and Salinas Valley are experiencing lower yields as well.”
Dick explained to me that INSV (Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus), which is transmitted through a small insect, is attributing to the problem. The virus causes necrotic tissue and stunting, so the plants that have the virus are not harvestable. Another issue is Lettuce Pythium, soft rot, which also affects Iceberg quality and yield.
The combination of the two problems, Dick noted, may lead to the shortest supply in all leaf lettuce and Iceberg in years. Current losses are leaving 30–35 percent of all lettuce unharvestable.
“This issue will definitely affect the rest of Northern California through November,” he remarked. “Desert regions are reporting INSV in Southern California fields over one month before harvesting. The shortage could be with us throughout the winter season.”
In order to mitigate this loss, I asked Dick what preventive measures Lakeside Organic is taking.
“We farm on 50 ranches, which allows us to grow our 50+ commodities on different blocks across those different ranches. When there is pest pressure on Romaine for example, and we lose a partial crop, we can recover by harvesting Romaine grown on the other ranches miles away from that problem. That way we don’t lose all our eggs from one basket,” he explained.
We’ll continue to keep our eyes on the situation, so stay here with us at AndNowUKnow.