Cold is friend and foe to local farmers




BRAWLEY - With temperatures expected to reach a freezing point in some areas, how much of a negative impact could this have on local farmers?

One Imperial Valley farm worker says freezing temperatures are concerning because they delay the harvest.

“You know – you have so many orders in one day and you have to get those in one day.”

That is what leafy green farmer Jack Vessey says is his biggest issue right now.

He says farm workers usually go out at 5 a.m. to begin harvesting and by noon they’re done.

Now that the crops are covered in frost after the cold mornings – workers are also forced to wait for the ice to thaw out before harvesting.

“You have to wait to cut it. You know, if you cut it, you’re going to bruise it and you have all kinds of issues.”

That means Vessey has to figure out which vegetable is in high demand – between lettuce, cabbage and spring mix – and then determine which one to cut so it can be packed for next day’s shipment.

“Our plan was to harvest, you know, 8-10 acres tomorrow. Now it’s going to end up being four to six.”

But what does this mean for consumers across the nation?

“There’s going to be less supply in the market because we can’t harvest it all. We don’t have enough time in the day to make those orders so there would be less supply in the next few days because of the ice.”

Some produce farmers are saying that the price of lettuce won’t pay for harvesting costs, but the cold might knock out some lettuce fields, and the law of supply and demand means the price would rise enough to pay for the crop to be harvested rather than plowed under.

Vessey says in order to prepare for tonight’s freezing temperatures – he and his crew will irrigate certain crops to make sure they’re good to go for tomorrow’s harvest.