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More quality problems in Salinas as rain follows heat

markon leaf die off
This field of green leaf shows significant die off. (photos courtesy Markon)

Markon Cooperative BB #:123315 issued a new crop report on lettuce, leaf and row crop quality issues. The expected weekend rain came, with more forecast early this week, which will further stress product in the field and decrease shelf-life.

INSV Damage in Iceberg & Romaine
Iceberg and romaine lettuce shows INSV damage.

In a From the Field report September 16, Markon said:

Raw product supplies of iceberg, leaf and other row crops in the Salinas Valley are being challenged due to the recent California heat wave, and yield losses from soil diseases and plant viruses.

Commodity and value-added lettuce items are both exhibiting heat-stress, mildew pressure, reduced yields, and a noticeable decline in shelf-life performance.

Markon Best Available (MBA) is being substituted mostly due to light weights from growers reaching into younger fields. Value-added suppliers are allocating the best raw product for RSS packs, but it is extremely difficult to eliminate 100% of the damage from abnormally high temperatures, soil disease, and plant viruses.

Chopped Romaine and some baby leaf products are especially likely to have decreased shelf-life for the next few weeks, but Shredded Lettuce and other salad blends will also have sub-standard performance.

The first rain of the season is forecast to arrive Sunday, September 18 and could linger through Tuesday, September 20 with totals ranging from a half inch-to an inch of rain. Markon suppliers are packing orders ahead to reduce the chance of shortages due to poor field conditions.

Maintaining the cold chain throughout distribution is critical for maximizing quality and shelf-life.

Markon inspectors will be monitoring quality and working with suppliers to select the best product available.

Decay in 12 Day Heritage
12 Day Heritage greens show decay.


Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services