California Storms Continue: LIV Produce's Anthony Innocenti, SCJewell's Cindy Jewell, and Bako Sweet® Greg Southworth Comment

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Wed. January 11th, 2023 - by Melissa De Leon Chavez

CALIFORNIA - It has been an uncharacteristically wet January in the Golden State. The most unique aspect (and trust me, any precipitation west of Utah and south of Washington has felt unique in recent years) is that this has not been in one region of California, but felt all over the state. So, how does this affect not just any current produce harvests, but the foreseeable future? A few friends were kind enough to share across locations and categories.

Anthony Innocenti, Managing Partner, LIV Produce“On the root veg side, we have been fine,” Anthony Innocenti, Managing Partner for LIV Produce, recently shared. “The desert has not seen too much of this wet weather, thankfully. Really, when it comes down to it, we need the rain in California, and the necessity is high enough that any precautions or pauses have been worth it and can even be helping the soil long-term.”

Going above ground to treefruit, though, has presented a challenge, with citrus harvests seeing delays amid the weather.

With uncharacteristically wet weather across the state of California, LIV Produce reports that citrus harvests are seeing delays and volume has tightened

“You cannot pick the fruit when it is wet, and the longer it stays on the tree the less shelf-life it has. So, citrus volume has tightened and will probably see the impact of less-than-expected product for the next couple of weeks, depending on if more rain heads our way. When there is a break is when harvest can resume and catch up to the need in the market,” Anthony explained.

Bobalu reports that the team is focused on keeping the fields drained and clean in order to preserve the grower's berry supply

Berries, too, have had to prepare and divert excess amounts of water to keep on track for coming harvests, as SCJewell Founder Cindy Jewell told me.

Cindy Jewell, Founder, SCJewell“We have definitely gotten some rain in Oxnard and are focused on keeping the fields drained and clean,” Cindy said of year-round berry provider Bobalu. She pointed out that, with storms still expected in the coming days, it is too soon to provide a clear picture on crop forecasts. “Thankfully, we have fruit coming up from Mexico right now so we can keep berries in the pipeline to our key customers! So, once we get past this ongoing rain, the plants will rebound and we can get into our 2023 season. At this point, we are doing our best and using the dry days ahead to help maintain the fields and waiting to see when we can have a more accurate read on any effect this might have on crops.”

In Bakersfield, sweet potato and onion provider Bako Sweet® has seen the weather as a benefit to operations.

Greg Southworth, Vice President, Farming Operations, Bako Sweet®“We’ve received about 2.5" of rain since the beginning of December, and it’s been spread out nicely. We’ve been able to minimize irrigations on our rotational crops such as onions and we haven’t had to water our cover crops since germination,” Greg Southworth, Vice President, Farming Operations, explained. “For the sweet potato hotbeds, the free moisture has allowed us to prepare the soil without pre-irrigation. We are in the final planning stages of hotbed layout and keeping fingers crossed the storms allow for a window large enough to get the beds made and seed planted in the upcoming weeks, but we still have time so no major concern here.”

As we continue to follow the weather and any effects it may have on our industry, AndNowUKnow will report the latest.