SLO County Farm Bureau Board member discusses the impact of the wet winter on crop planting and prices
By Tom Ikeda, San Luis Obispo vegetable grower
From California Farm Bureau Federation’s Ag Alert
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — The wet winter and record rains set us back a month or longer on our groundwork. We were hoping to prepare for planting back in December, and just in the last few weeks we’ve been able to get into those fields. The delay has created a rush to get fields ready to plant. We need to work ground to continue our planting schedule, so it’s been hectic.
The delay is going to have an impact on the rest of the year because our crops have a short season of about two or three months, so it is going to affect the next crop and possibly the following crop. Another impact due to the wet weather is our workers are working maybe 60 percent of their typical hours, so that is lost income.
Due to the inconsistency in planting, supplies are going to be sporadic during the spring and summer, which is going to lead to higher prices for customers. If the timing is right, then we can hit those market spikes. That gives us opportunities to hit markets longer than we would in a normal year.
Related to our planting schedule, the intervals between plantings are starting to shorten as the days get longer. Things are starting to get busy. We are heavy into planting and trying to get caught up with groundwork. We’re having to prioritize things.
We’re starting to see better quality in a lot of our products. The lettuces, cabbages and cilantro are looking much better because we planted them later, so they didn’t go through as much bad weather. The earlier crops got hammered by the big rains. Supplies are picking up a little bit, but I don’t think it’s going to come back to normal springtime market levels because everybody has had a tough time trying to maintain planting schedules. We suspect there will be shortages throughout the season, which means higher prices in the stores.