Many reports have been highlighting the storm damage caused in California cherry crops, however, several other crops also experienced varying levels of damage. Liz Hudson, who owns and operates Hudson Farms with her husband Earl, said the unseasonable weather also affected their stone fruit and vegetables.
“We have seen some damage in some of the later varieties of plums in particular and we don’t really know what the extent of damage is on the fruit that’s high up in the tree,” said Hudson. “Then also we grow Armenian cucumbers and you can see where the hail shot-holed through the leaf canopy.”
Multiple areas of California have been reporting varying degrees of storm damage, which growers will be closely monitoring as the season progresses. While the damage will not necessarily affect the quality of the produce in terms of taste, the bruising and scaring will make the produce unmarketable. “Everybody seems to be looking right now and a lot of it won’t show up right away. A lot of it will show up once the fruit dries off and warms up and starts to grow a little bit. That very tiny little indentation or blemish can grow into a bigger scar,” said Hudson.
The six-generation family farm in Sanger produces peaches, plums, and nectarines, and also grows several types of vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, and zucchini that are sold at a roadside farm stand. While it is clear that the storm systems definitely had a negative impact on the farm, it will take some time before the magnitude of damage is assessed. “Some of the fruit that’s lower in the tree had a pretty decent canopy and it looks like some of those were spared some of the scaring, but there definitely is some damage,” said Hudson. “We really don’t know until we get on ladders and get up there and kind of take a look around.”
Direct damage to the produce itself is not the only concern that unseasonable weather has been creating for growers. Hudson said that the prolonged period of temperatures that are between 15 and 20 degrees below normal are pushing the season even later than average. “Our fruits aren’t anywhere near ready to pick yet. It’s going to be maybe two or three weeks before we probably start harvest, it just depends,” said Hudson. “I know a lot of our urban consumers don’t want the hot weather coming in, but as farmers, we need those heat units.”
Listen to Hudson’s interview below.