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California rains may set up future crop gaps

Despite the heavy California rains, chard from the state are maintaining decent supply levels. “We have okay supplies of green, red and rainbow chard, despite the rough weather we’ve had,” says Frank Ratto of Modesto, Ca.-based Ratto Bros. “We just have to give the crops a bit of extra time and love to harvest them—make sure we don’t put yellow leaves in the bunches and things like that. And we have to take the extra time to make sure the product is clean because with all the rain out there, there’s a lot of mud.” Supplies, adds Ratto, are on par with last year’s levels.

Prices stay steady
With Ratto harvesting 12-16 in. bunches of chards, prices are ranging from $12-$14—again, the same range of pricing seen last year. “But prices could go up if the rain makes our harvest times too slow,” notes Ratto. “And we are expecting more rain to come so it’ll be more elements to battle to get a pristine product.”
Ratto sees another long-term effect from the weather: interrupting the seasons in the coming months. “This time of the year, nobody has the ability to plant because of the weather so there could be some gaps down the road,” he says. “We may see some springtime gaps on a lot of commodities.”

Rainbow on the rise?
For now though demand is steady and normal with plenty of demand from the East Coast as well as local markets. And that includes rainbow chard, which is catching on somewhat. “It’s slowly being accepted,” says Ratto. “But retailers don’t carry as much of it so the consumer doesn’t see it as much. If it was pushed and promoted more, maybe it would catch on.”

For more information:
Frank Ratto
Ratto Bros
Tel: +1-209-545-7575

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