Unrelenting rain in southern California has left some farms flooded, and all the gray skies are even affecting indoor farms.
At Beylik Family Farms, tomatoes should be bright red and ready to pick, but the stormy weather and lack of sunshine delayed production by about three to four weeks.
Scott Beylik, a greenhouse tomato farmer in Fillmore, California, describes his on-the-vine tomatoes as “perfect for BLTs or burgers on a warm, sunny day.”
The typical sunny days in southern California have been few and far between this month. While outdoor farms deal with flooding, the indoor ones fear the dark rain clouds the most.
A third-generation farmer, Beylik and his family have grown tomatoes inside greenhouses about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles since 1971. Their tomatoes rely on plenty of sunlight.
“In the greenhouse here, we’re enclosed. We don’t have lights in here. We still rely on the sun,” Beylik said. “We want full sun for tomatoes. Well, when it’s rainy and super cloudy, you don’t have the sun. So, it really sets production back. It sets the ripening back.”
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California is one of the top producers of fresh tomatoes in the U.S.
Last summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture blamed dry conditions and high temperatures for low tomato production, but this year, stormy skies have been to blame.
“We have a tremendous amount of green tomatoes right now. We should have started picking these plants three weeks ago,” Beylik said.
In Los Angeles, the total rainfall this year is almost 22 inches, according to Fox Weather’s forecast center compared to less than half an inch of rain this time last year.
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The Beyliks grow other vegetables like cucumbers and squash outdoors, but harvests for those have been delayed because of the soggy soil.
Restaurants that depend on fresh produce are feeling the impact, too.
“Some of our restaurants, they want some of the specific varieties of tomatoes we have, and we keep telling them, ‘Sorry, you know, I’ve got to short you or no tomatoes this week.’”
The rain has also been keeping customers away.
“Our marketing site is farmer’s markets. Well, all those farmer’s markets are outside, so who’s going to come out to a farmer’s market in a downpour?”
The second bomb cyclone in two weeks has hit the California coast, bringing more rain, high winds and heavy mountain snow.
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