Organic lettuce supplies have been somewhat impacted by temperatures in Arizona.
“Due to recent colder temperatures, the supply has been affected by slow growth. We are also seeing some product quality issues due to frost damage and the cold weather in general,” says Patty Emmert of Duncan Family Farms in Goodyear, AZ, a family-owned, multi-regional grower of certified organic produce that specializes in baby lettuces, greens, kale and herbs.
Emmert does note however that supply this year is comparable to last year at this time. “It is not uncommon to run into cold weather challenges during the months of January, February and even March which will impact rate of growth and in some instances, incur product damage due to frost,” says Emmert.
Increasing AI production
Currently most of the supply is coming out of Yuma, AZ--all of Duncan’s product right now is grown in Goodyear and Maricopa, AZ. (Goodyear is also where Duncan grows its organic culinary herb program which launched in the summer.) “With the demand for local product and overall weather challenges, we are seeing an increase in indoor ag operations, especially for baby greens,” says Emmert. “Most of the growth for IA is focused in Eastern half of the U.S. with still a major percentage of lettuces and greens being grown outdoor between Yuma and Salinas, CA.”
At the same time, demand has been strong from all regions for organic lettuces. “We anticipate consumption to continue to be steady,” she says. “We will be watching the weather on the East Coast to see how that will impact demand and supply chains.”
Looking ahead, Emmert notes that Duncan will continue to be a little short on product over the next week or so and then, within two weeks, be back into full production. “The product is growing a bit slower due to the previous bout of cold weather but temps are picking back up and we should be back up to contracted levels within a week to 10 days,” she adds.