Unseasonably warm and humid conditions experienced in California’s Salinas Valley over the last several weeks continue to create industry-wide quality problems and shelf-life challenges for both commodity and value-added lettuce and tender leaf items.
Daytime highs are expected to be at or just below seasonal norms for the next week, but overnight temperatures will still be warmer than normal. Another warming trend is forecast for the weekend of August 15; high pressure will move into the region that could cause temperatures to rise into the upper 90s in the inland areas.
Markon inspectors have already seen the effects of the unfavorable growing conditions in most Salinas Valley row crops throughout the industry and expect quality and shelf-life issues to continue through August and possibly until the end of the Salinas season. Quality concerns that have been noted by Markon inspectors include, but are not limited to the following:
- Accelerated respiration rates
- Brittle texture in tender leaf items
- Elevated seeder/long core in lettuce items; sporadic core material in finished salads
- Inconsistent density in iceberg (causing sporadic chunks or wads)
- Insect pressure
- Internal burn
- Mechanical damage
- Rib blight in iceberg and romaine
- Shortened shelf-life
- Yellowing in select baby leaf items
Markon suppliers are doing everything possible to minimize the number of defects at the field and processing levels, but it will not be possible to completely eliminate issues as some of them cannot be detected by harvesting/processing crews. Ordering for quick turns is recommended. Cold chain management will be particularly important throughout the duration of the Salinas Valley growing season in order to maximize quality and shelf-life.
Please contact your Markon customer sercvice representative for more information.
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