High prices and short supplies caused by adverse weather for California and Arizona continue for a second week but growers with desert crops say supplies should level out by between late November and early December.
The commodity most affected as of mid-November continues to be romaine, which was fetching record prices of $38 per carton. On Nov. 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $38.65 for carton 24s of California romaine, up from $11.56-14.50 last year at the same time.
Margaret D’Arrigo-Martin, executive vice president of sales and marketing for romaine giant D’Arrigo Bros. Co., Salinas, Calif., said Yuma, Ariz., romaine and romaine heart yields will stabilize by Thanksgiving and the company doesn’t expect any supply gaps to continue past that time.
“I think everyone is in the same position,” D’Arrigo-Martin said.
Because the company transitions its lettuce directly from Salinas to Yuma in early November, skipping the intermediary three weeks most grower-shippers spend in Huron, Calif., D’Arrigo-Martin said its romaine avoided some of the weather problems in California but still faced light supplies. The company has asked its customers “to be patient with us,” she said, as they try to fill as many orders as they can.
Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Salinas, is also in the midst of short supplies for its leafy green varieties, expect for green leaf, said Sammy Duda, vice president of western vegetable operations. Because so much of what Duda sells is under contract, Duda said they are receiving higher prices for their lettuces but not the highs seen on the open market.
“Supplies should improve as we move to Yuma” in late November, Duda said.
USDA reported prices of up to $24 for 24s of iceberg lettuce from Huron, and up to $20 for 24s of iceberg from Arizona.