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Tompkins County, Weather

Extreme Cold Forces Higher Priced Vegetables

By: Noreyana Fernando

Ithaca saw temperatures that dropped down to the single digits over the past few weeks, but it wasn’t the only place hit with freezing temperatures.

Some of the vegetables that might you find here in Ithaca come from farms in the Southwest, where unusually low temperatures have adversely affected the quality of fresh vegetable produce, reducing yield and damaging plants.

Here in Ithaca, Andrew Hernandez II is the produce manager at Greenstar co-op. Hernandez told WICB News that at this time of the year, Greenstar relies on produce from the Western part of the country.

“This time of the year, a lot of our stuff has to come from the West because we can’t grow items here in this region with this type of weather unless we have massive greenhouses,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wegmans officials have warned that supplies are tight and customers should anticipate cost increases.

In a blog, Mary Ellen Burris, the senior vice president of consumer affairs at Wegmans,
said they have had talks with suppliers to shorten the printed shelf life of leafy greens.

Burris says the vegetables that concern them the most include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and all organic vegetables.

Hernandez said that at Greenstar, they too are concerned with supply shortages and price hikes. He explained that the size of certain vegetables could also reduce.

“We have a lot of shortages on celery and right now, cauliflower,” Hernandez said. “One thing that happens with the cold is it slows down the growth process for things like cauliflower where they’re not able to size up. You end up getting these really small bunches or heads of cauliflower where they end up being $5 each.”

Even if the cold weather is recedes, Hernandez said customers might expect supply shortages and high prices to stay on for a while.



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