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Reporting on science, technology and innovation in Arizona and the Southwest through a collaboration from Arizona NPR member stations. This project is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.Additional stories from the Arizona Science Desk are posted at our collaborating station, KJZZ: http://kjzz.org/science

Lettuce Shortage Caused by Unexpected Weather Comes to an End

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Yuma agricultural fields during the season

Yuma, Arizona provides the majority of winter leafy greens in the U.S. and Salinas, California grows those same crops in the summer.  When harvest periods in the two areas don’t align, it can create a lettuce shortage—like the one that just ended.  For the Arizona Science Desk, Maya Springhawk Robnett reports…

The shortage began in mid-March.  Due to record rainfall in California, Salinas growers had to plant later than usual.  And due to unexpected heat in Arizona, Yuma growers had to harvest earlier.  This created a gap in the supply, driving up lettuce prices in some areas of the country.

"It was a double whammy."

The severe shortage has virtually come to an end, according to Paul Brierley, Executive Director of the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture.  Brierley said growers can’t always foresee these kinds of problems. “The weather’s something that nobody can predict and it definitely was a weather-related—it was a double whammy weather-related thing of us being warm and then them getting all that rain.”

The Center hopes to prevent future  shortages by working to extend the Yuma lettuce growing season to start earlier and end later—which would bridge potential harvesting gaps between Yuma and Salinas.

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