Salinas Valley Wildfires Affecting Row Crops

A confluence of factors is affecting the Salinas Valley growing season as we are dealing with sustained record high temperatures, and now multiple outbreaks of fires in the Monterey County over the past few days that have led to widespread supply issues and shortages.

With the production season squarely in California, it is causing issues for row crops industry-wide due to dangerous air quality which makes harvesting difficult and dangerous.

Ash residue is the latest issue suppliers see in the fields as fires continue to burn, and are expected to burn through the end of August. Our Grower/Shipper partners have processes to ship product without traces of ash and are doing their very best to pack a clean box of produce.

With these added stresses, we can expect quality issues on all items coming out of Salinas Valley. On the value-added items, shelf life will be shorter than usual as commodities do not have the strength we would see during ideal conditions. Ordering close to the numbers would be very prudent throughout the next few weeks. We will continue to give updates as this situation continues to be fluid.

As the temperature continues to rise as well as with COVID-19 keeping people at home, growers are running into a massive labor shortage. Supplies are expected to be very light due to quality issues and yield loss over the next several weeks. Overall, market pricing is expected to trend higher during these next several weeks.

Highs are expected to remain in the 105-115 range for Inland Valleys and the upper 90s near the coast. Recent model trends are keeping the high pressure in place through next week, until the weekend of August 29-30. This would maintain much warmer than normal conditions, especially inland.

Iceberg: The industry will be faced with potential burn-related quality challenges in the upcoming weeks from the extreme heat and wildfires.

Romaine: Industry to expect internal and tip burn from recent heat and extremely hot weather.

Green & Red Leaf: Lower yields and weights. Internal and tip burn can be expected due to hot weather.

Tender/Baby Leaf: Slight light texture from rapid growth and heat, growers will closely monitor shelf life.

Spinach: Slight light texture from rapid growth and heat.

Broccoli: Showing brown beads which seem to be trying to open due to the current heat.

Cauliflower: Yellowing due to heat exposure.

Carrots: Jumbos sizing is slowing down due to hot temperatures. Pricing is up again this week.

Valencia Oranges: Pricing has increased significantly. Growers are trying to harvest as many 88/113/138 for food service program orders, but the fruit is still very short on small fruit. USDA Farm to Family program is also taking the majority of Valencia’s.


Important Reminder: During the Summer months, maintaining the cold chain at all times will be critical to preserving shelf life performance as well as managing tighter inventories across all commodities.