Photo: Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press
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SALINAS, Calif. — Local farmers are taking a big hit on their harvest from last month’s heat wave.
Huge losses in iceberg and romaine lettuce production have led to prices tripling. The heat allowed for the lettuce to wilt drastically, and it no longer fit a certain quality standard for some farmers. Shoppers are noticing the environmental impact.
“Yes, it’s definitely having to do with the hot spell,” said Katie Dozier, a shopper.
“I’m not surprised given the recent weather we’ve had. Mother Nature is Mother Nature. On good times she gives, and bad times she takes away,” said Luis Alvarez, a shopper.
That mid-June heat wave led to triple-digit temperatures in the Salinas Valley.
“You get that many hours of heat on the crops, it is going to make an effect. And the effect was we lost a lot of our product,” said Jason Lathros, Churches Brothers Farms’ manager of commodities.
During the heat the lettuce wilted, costing the Churches Brothers Farms 20 percent, 25 percent, possibly even 30 percent in loss of iceberg and romaine lettuce that was planted three months ago.
“There’s nothing you can do. That’s Mother Nature. We play in an outdoor arena,” said Lathos.
However, the arena in Salinas is what makes growing ideal. Growers said that weather usually isn’t an issue this time of year, but that rare heat wave is behind prices tripling.
“You have relationships with your customers. You give everyone just a little bit. You may not be able to give them everything they are looking for, but you try and spread it around to all of your customers,” said Lathos.
Whether shoppers noticed the hike or not, they said their health rises above a price tag.
“I would say feeding my family healthy foods and vegetables is more important to me,” said Dozier.
Alvarez added, “We take advantage of it in the good times, and pay a little bit more when the prices go up.”
Churches Brothers Farms has a policy where they shut down production when the weather reaches 90 degrees or higher. In June, the company said they stopped as early as 11 a.m. on some days. They said these prices are expected to last until mid-July.
The rain in May also put a damper on crops for the Churches Brothers Farms. They said they had to work at half speed, but everything was harvested.
This story originally appeared on KSBW.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Why-lettuce-prices-have-tripled-recently-14066484.php.