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Prices almost double now from this time last year
Weather hasn't been kind to celery
Celery is “a little crazy right now” according to Gary Atkison of Greenfield Fresh. Between a bit of a peak for St. Patrick’s Day (as part of their corned beef celebratory meals) and the upcoming Easter pull, supply is low but demand is high. “Weather hasn’t really helped us,” he said. “The weather in California has been miserable. Between Yuma winding down and Florida finishing earlier it’s going to bring up costs for sure. It’s going to be a little tough.” Plantings are definitely behind because of the weather.
Once Salinas starts in late May to early June Atkison says things should get back to normal with much better weather. He predicts the next few weeks should be “interesting” – even on all commodities growing out of similar regions. Yuma has been experiencing between 90-100 degrees temperatures recently.
Weather could create gap
The weather could create about a three-week gap, which he says would more than likely be in California’s Oxnard and Santa Maria areas. Something else that affects supplies is the celery seeder (when the leafy inside of the plant grows faster than the outside). “You get fewer stalks and (more) that you can’t sell, so that will bring the price up even more. Shippers need to cover their contracts – their first priority – and that could leave little for the distributors and brokers. “Everyone has to add their markups,” he said.
Prices double compared to last year
Currently Santa Maria prices are at $12.00-$14.50; Oxnard ranges from $12.65-$18.50 and Yuma is at $13.65-$16.45. “I would say a year ago the price was probably half of that,” Atkison said, adding the average price on celery would be right around $15.25 and rising in the next few weeks. “Our job is looking for the best price for our customers and helping them the best we can.”
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