Jan. 28, 2013
I received an email this week from my food supplier containing a very sudden warning about a price spike in certain produce. You may recall that earlier this month desert freezes occurred in Arizona and California. While farmers tried methods to protect their crops, the four days of below freezing weather just proved to be too much for certain crops and losses are substantial.
This year most of the desert crops were well ahead of their projected harvest dates with a large supply for projected demand. There were unfortunately multiple days of freezing temperatures resulting in loss of product. This in turn creates a large gap in supplies and wide spread quality problems. These issues will take weeks to sort out and get through.
Crops substantially hit by the freeze are broccoli, Romaine and green leaf lettuce and green onions. Broccoli has already risen from an average 2012 price of $7.93 per fob (free on board or shipping price) to $31.23. Equally substantial increases will be seen for the lettuce and green onions.
Using wind machines and water, California was able to save the majority of citrus crops, with the possible exceptions of Mandarin oranges. They are still a concern due to their thin skin and ease of peeling. More than $17 million was spent to try and save these crops, according to California Citrus Mutual. Navel oranges made it through the freeze while Clementines had already been harvested.
In Arizona, 75 percent of the lemon harvest was completed prior to the freeze.