California storms delay vital crops, create potential shortages in grocery stores
HOUSTON - As if inflation wasn't squeezing grocery budgets enough, bad weather may also be raising prices and tightening supplies.
California's relentless storms over the winter and spring have been more than a damaging inconvenience. In the midst of it, farmers feared the worst for a busy growing season about to begin.
"Here in California, we feed the world, not just the country; we feed the world," said farmer Johnny Dykstra. Brother Brandon Dykstra worries, "All these crops are probably going to be a hundred percent destroyed."
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That prediction is, now, showing up on the produce aisle, where California farmers provide more than a third of the nation's vegetables and 75% of fruit and nuts. Lettuce, strawberries, celery, carrots, and broccoli have all been affected. Rain, floods, and snow have delayed or damaged California crops, and some grocers are posting signs that consumers should expect supply and quality issues until the supply chain can be resolved.
In a statement, HEB Public Affairs Manager, Lacey Dalcour Salas, says, "H-E-B works with a diverse group of growers locally and across the country. These situations arise from time to time, and while we may be temporarily impacted, we are able to utilize our vast network of suppliers to meet the needs of our customers."
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Shoppers have noticed. "Produce is a little bit higher, and I find that it's not quite as fresh, either," says Leandria Patterson.
It's hard to tell how long it will take for affected farmers to replenish supplies. Crops, like lettuce, grow quickly and can be harvested a few times a season, while others can take two months to grow.
While farmers remain optimistic about getting back on track, it could be mid-summer before some produce supplies return to normal.