Spencer said he has seen an increase in sclerotinia and rhizoctonia as a result of the early-season rainfall and resulting high water table on celery, lettuce and cauliflower. In addition, he said soil-borne diseases such as pythium and phytophthora seem to be more common this year.
“Right now we are still feeling the affect of moisture in March through May,” he said. “The ground was so wet it couldn’t be worked, cover crops couldn’t be worked. You have a situation where you would normally get in and prepare the ground, but you were so rushed you don’t have to time to let the ground dry out as it should. And when you plant in moisture it shows up in following crops.”
Despite pests, heat and regulatory hurdles, farmers and PCAs agreed the market remained the biggest trouble for the Salinas Valley vegetable community.
Prices for lettuce in early August remained at or below growing costs, where it has lingered through much of the season.
High fuel costs, increasing rents and other ballooning fixed costs continue to put pressure on growers in the region.