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Heat continues to stress lettuce supplies

markon internal burn
Leaf lettuce showing internal burn and decay, taken in July 2022.

The September heat wave in California is causing quality problems for most lettuce varieties.

That, in turn, is causing high prices to remain, and they may be headed up as fall begins and growers start the transition from Central California to the Yuma, AZ area.

romaine 9-14-22 iceberg 9-14-22

In a crop update September 13, Markon Cooperative BB #:123315 alerted buyers to the market conditions.

California green leaf, iceberg, and romaine supplies have been impacted by disease pressure and higher-than-normal temperatures. Prices continue to climb.

Markon First Crop (MFC) Premium Iceberg, Romaine, and Green Leaf are available; Markon Best Available (MBA) is being substituted due to low case weights and quality concerns.

Abnormally high temperatures last week are causing varying levels of internal burn, sun scald, growth crack, seeder core, weak tip, and salt and pepper; mildew and thrip damage are also prevalent due to persistently warm soil temperatures.

INSV and Sclerotia are of special concern and have forced suppliers to cut ahead of their scheduled harvests, affecting Romaine Hearts markets/availability.

Romaine prices will remain elevated through September and the Yuma transition.

Iceberg markets remain elevated; low case weights are a result of internal burn forcing suppliers to harvest more immature heads.
Markets are rising; expect elevated markets through the Yuma transition.

Warm weather has resulted in dense heads, fringe burn, pest pressure, and weak tip, reducing harvestable yields and shelf-life.

Mildew, among other pest and disease pressures like INSV, has forced suppliers to cut ahead of their scheduled harvests, lowering case weights and field level yields.

Markets are forecast to climb over the next five to seven days and will remain elevated through Yuma transition.


Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services