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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Orellana

Northern Calif fires affecting Produce. Wash your produce!!!

Between increased insect and disease pressure from warm and humid conditions in late July, the August heatwave, and fires that threatened homes and left ash residue on crops, the past few weeks have been a wild ride for growers in the Salinas Valley.

The results of these events will continue to show up for weeks to come in the crops being harvested and shipped from coast to coast. There has been a significant in- crease in pest and disease pressure as a result of the heat - resulting in lower yields, inconsistent sizing and carton weights, fringe burn, internal burn, sun burn, dehydra- tion and general weaker texture.

The spring mix and tender leaf items are also showing lower yields, fringe burn and weaker plant texture affecting shelf life. Broccoli fields are showing some open and brown bead along with some branching with discoloration and some open curds (spread) seen in the cauliflower fields.

Impacts from the wildfires are still being realized with ash present in most crops val- ley-wide, while concentrations vary depending on the changing wind directions and fire containment efforts. Field-packed items such as Romaine and red and green leaf are the most impacted due to the open head/frame nature of the crop that traps the ash inside.

The ash tends to accumulate at the base of the plant and is virtually impossible to remove entirely. Mid-range forecasts bring a strengthening high pressure system into the region around middle of next week with a shallow marine layer allowing for warmer then average temperatures once again across the region next week. Labor remains short as crews begin earlier in the morning to combat the smoke and heat. We expect general yields and quality to remain a struggle with lesser texture and shelf life over the next few weeks.

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