MARKET REPORT – DEC. 12TH, 2018
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will remember back a few weeks ago when I showed you this:
That is the Imperial Valley (top), Mexicali (south of Imperial) and Yuma on the right. You can drive east to west, and/or north to south across this region, from one edge of the desert to the other, in a little more than an hour. And this is where 80% of all the green veg (Green onions, chard, kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce etc.) is grown for the Canada / US market for November to May. When weather doesn’t cooperate, then there are problems.
And there is big problem right now that you should understand, so when customers say “$9.99 for lettuce, are you effing crazy?” you will have a response.
High pressure ridges (sunny) and low pressure storms(rainy) are directed around the Northern Hemisphere by the Jet Stream – The Northern Hemisphere jet stream flows in a wavy pattern from west to east, driven by the rotation of the Earth and the difference in temperature between the equator and the North Pole. As the Arctic warms, the jet stream’s flow can become weakened and elongated. A lower moving, elongated Jet is no longer shunting storms around the planet like it used to – weather systems or ridges get stuck and maintain a pattern for weeks, instead of days. This change can be comfortably blamed on polar warming and much less ice in the Arctic at any time of the year. For example, periods of hot and dry weather are lasting longer, allowing forests to dry to a crisp and then explode with a lightning strike, spreading faster and lasting longer than they used to.
To the same extent, a current high pressure ridge well off the coast of California, centered over Hawaii, is not budging and is forcing cooler wetter weather to slide south over eastern California and Yuma. This was predicted three weeks ago with this long range outlook.
We have the occasional gaps in the produce industry, usually corrected fairly shortly, but this cold and damp pattern has now been in place for 2 weeks and the predictions are for it to be very resilient, with no strength in the Jet Stream to move it East for another 10 days.
This is the long term forecast for El Centro / Yuma. Pretty nice, right?
So here is the weather today, as I write this, at 2PM, the warmest point of the day.
Currently 67F (19C) instead of a reliably normal 80F (27C) – and if you ready my recent rant about average soil temperatures being crucially important you will recognize that heat-loving greens just don’t grow at these temperatures. That’s the forecast and average for El Centro to the right.
So to wrap this up, you can expect, in general, scant supplies of lettuce and very tight markets on leafy greens, and especially celery.
That being said, years ago, having a pretty good idea that weather was going to change and create perilous conditions in the desert southwest, we ventured south and found a really good farmer in Guanajuato, where the weather is a little warmer and there’s plenty of water, and began our Ecocampos program. And every so often, especially at times like this, we thank our lucky stars for that decision, because we should have ample supply of all those commodities for the next few weeks. And a great time for our grower to take advantage of high prices!