A three-day heat wave that passed through Salinas, Calif., is likely to affect vegetable yields and volume in coming weeks, especially lettuce.
Salinas hit 94 degrees May 13, topping a 1976 record for the date, according to the National Weather Service. Highs the next two days were 94 and 88. A cooling trend started May 16, with temperatures in the 70s and high 60s forecast for coming days.
“Unfortunately, we will see heat-related issues in most items for the next few weeks,” said Mark McBride, salesman for Salinas-based Coastline Produce. “All of which will reduce yields and most likely drive markets higher.”
In parts of Monterey and San Benito counties, temperatures passed 100 degrees. Overnight temperatures through the region were also unusually warm.
Some lettuce heads are expected to have sunburned outer leaves requiring removal at harvest. Fringe burn and internal tip burn produce discolorations. Fringe burn is cosmetic; tip burn can lead to breakdown.
“It’s like growing in a hot house,” McBride said. “Rapid growth, but the plant doesn’t grow strong, resilient tissue.”
Harvest hours were reduced during the heat wave.