California’s Salinas Valley spinach supplies are showing strong yields with little quality issues as the season gets under way.

Most spinach harvesting started in the first two weeks of April, reaching peak volumes almost immediately after production, with production continuing through the fall.

Andrew Cumming, president of Metz Fresh LLC, King City, Calif., said the company’s production started in the southern Salinas Valley the week of March 30 and isn’t showing signs of mildew or other quality problems associated with the recent cold and wet weather.

“We’re harvesting every day so there’s no up and down really,” Cumming said.

Cumming said the company’s acreage is the same as previous years, though the company has done some spot sales to salad processors because its foodservice customers are scaling back because of the recession. Though foodservice is a big part of the company’s program, Cumming said volume isn’t dropping off but is growing in some areas for the company, which also sells its spinach to retail.

Mark McBride, sales office manager for Coastline Produce, Salinas, Calif., said its bunched spinach program, the only type of spinach Coastline produces, as of mid-April avoided any major quality issues resulting from the cool weather. Coastline sells its bunches among wholesalers, retailers and foodservice vendors, McBride said, and said volume and acreage are the same as last year.

“We have excellent quality,” McBride said, with few issues related to March rains.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on April 13 spinach from California’s central coast was fetching prices of $12.47-16.45 for cartons of 24s.

Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, harvests spinach for bunches and baby spinach for its bagged salads. Joe Pezzini, chief operating officer, said production starts in the warmer, southern Salinas Valley and moves north.

“Our bunch volume is back up to where it was before” 2006, Pezzini said. “Salad is going well. The bunches are quite a bit bigger than the salad business.”
Quality is high on bunches and baby spinach, Pezzini said, and the company hit peak production about March 20.

“It’s constant production,” Pezzini.

Ocean Mist does scale back slightly during the summer, he said, when regional deals start producing spinach and supplies flood the market.