view current print edition







California rains continue to play havoc on markets

As the rain continues in California the markets also continue their march higher. All commodities currently coming from the coastal regions of California have seen excessive rain over the past month leading to decreased supplies and major issues with quality. Strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes and celery have all seen prices rise again this past week due to the heavy storms over the weekend — and there is more rain to come this week.weat

“The biggest impacts from these rains is damage to ripe strawberries, which turn to mush when they get that wet and can’t be sold for fresh fruit," according to John Krist, chief executive officer of the California Farm Bureau. "That damaged fruit ends up getting stripped and sold for juice or jam, which is a money-losing proposition at this time of year, but one that can’t be avoided — if left in the fields that damaged fruit will spread fungus.

“We also had harvest delays in just about everything, including citrus, which can’t be picked when wet. And there’s a heightened risk of fungal disease in vegetables, too, particularly celery," said Krist.

“It’s worth remembering, however, that this is what a normal year used to look like," said Krist. "Our frame of reference has been skewed by nearly seven years of drought or below-average rainfall. Dealing with these issues is par for the course."

This year is more in line with historical norms. The historical average combined rainfall for January and February in Oxnard, CA, is approximate seven inches. Over the last seven years, when California has been in a drought cycle, the average combined rainfall for these two months is less than four inches. This year nine inches of rain have already fallen in Oxnard and we have two more weeks to go in February.

This next shot coming on Wednesday and Thursday will drop another 1.5 inches of rain and bring the total close to 11 inches. It’s no wonder harvests are being delayed.

Santa Maria and Salinas will also see another inch-plus of rain this week.

The National Weather Service issued freeze warnings for yesterday morning and this morning in the San Joaquin Valley as temps dropped below freezing for up to six hours the last two nights. Some locations, such as Visalia, saw temps drop down to 28 Monday morning and 29 this morning. 

Rain is coming to all current growing regions in Florida today. From Plant City all the way south to Homestead, all growing locations can expect approximately 0.25 inches of rain today. Behind this storm expect one day of cooler temps on Wednesday. Temperatures will drop by about 10 to 15 degrees across the board tomorrow. On Thursday temperatures will be back to normal in the low 80s during the day and the low 60s at night. There is another opportunity for light rain on Friday and Saturday.

Starting Sunday Florida will be feeling the effects of a heat wave. Up and down the state expect maximum temps close to 90 and minimum temps in the mid- to upper 60s. These temps will last at least through Wednesday of next week. Expect production to heavier as we head into next week.

Tomato supplies out of Mexico have tightened a bit and prices have moved off the minimum where they had been for the past several weeks, which could be a result of bloom drop caused by the cold temps back in the late December.

Temperatures in Culiacan will get progressively hotter throughout the week, peaking this Friday with a max temp of 94 and a minimum temp of 61. On Saturday Culiacan will begin a cooling trend, and by Wednesday, Feb. 20 they will see a minimum temp of 50. This should slow down production somewhat by the end of next week.

The Weathermelon app offers consolidated lists of global growing regions for each commodity; a 10-day detail forecast for each region; current radar maps (U.S. only); estimated harvest start/end dates for each commodity; monthly average high/low temps for each region; and custom daily alerts for temperature, precipitation and severe weather based on 10-day forecasts.

(David Robidoux is a co-founder Weathermelon)