California winter desert lettuce shipments are looking good this season due to good growing conditions, although the nearby Yuma lettuce season may be a little behind schedule because of rain.
Coastline Family Farms of Salinas, CA transitioned its lettuce shipments from the Salinas Valley to Yuma, AZ the second week of November and to Brawley, CA this week, where it has a branch operation.
The company reports the Yuma area was hit by a significant storm system that included heavy rain and hail, which causes significant damage to some early planted lettuce fields.
While lettuce shipments were lighter than normal for Thanksgiving, volume is now improving.
Coastline began around Thanksgiving from Brawley with Imperial Valley vegetable shipments including about two dozen items such as romaine, romaine hearts, cauliflower, green leaf and red leaf lettuce. These loadings should continue until early April
While romaine grown in Salinas has been cited for food borne illness, it thus far has not affected growing areas in the California and Arizona deserts. One possible point of confusion from a consumer perspective may be, for example, was observed recently in a Wal-Mart supermarket. A well known shipper stated on the romaine in the display case was distributed by the company “from Salinas, CA.” However, a Wal-Mart sign stated no lettuce was Salinas was being distributed by the store. That may be factually correct, but how many consumers hestitate to by the romaine because they do not know where it was grown.
Who really cares where the company who distributed it is from. It is more important to known where the produce was grown. One can debate\ the costs of labeling, but that is a whole different issue.
Boskovich Fresh Food Group of Oxnard, CA grows and ships most of it vegetables from Ventura County, although it complements its program of celery, cabbages, romaine, red- and green-leaf lettuce and other items with a limited amount of lettuce and some red and green leaf from Yuma.
Meanwhile, Peter Rabbit Farms of , Coachella, CA launched its red and green leaf season the second week of November, followed by romain loadings a week later. The company was experiencing truck load volume by Thanksgiving, with the season continuing through March.
Ocean Mist Farms of Castroville, CA grows and ships winter vegetables from the Coachella Valley including artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cardone, cauliflower, celery, fennel/sweet anise, a full line of leafy greens, green cabbage, iceberg lettuce, rapini/broccoli rabe and spinach.
Shipments of iceberg and leaf items started the third week of November, while broccoli and cauliflower got underway a few days before Thanksgiving. The company has increased its Brussels sprouts and iceberg lettuce volume this year.
Baloian Farms of Fresno CA started shipping from the Coachella Valley the first half of November with items ranging from romaine, to romaine hearts, red leaf, green leaf, jumbo butter leaf and cauliflower following its seasonal transition from the Fresno. The company expects similar volume again this season with romaine and green leaf , while more volume will be coming from other vegetables such as romaine hearts, green onions, cauliflower and celery.
Such a storm can damage or even destroy planted fields, he said.