Arizona farmers say Hurricane Kay could destroy crops, lead to higher produce prices

Hurricane Kay is going to bring rain to western Arizona and Yuma farmers are worried it'll be too much, ruining their crops.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 7:39 PM MST
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YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Hurricane Kay has made landfall in Mexico as a Category One storm. It hit the west coast of the central Baja California Peninsula with winds of 75 mph. It is expected to weaken overnight, but we could see some impacts from that storm here in Arizona. Some state farmers worry about what it could do to their crop, which could ultimately lead to higher prices at the grocery store.

A Yuma farmer we spoke with says these storms can potentially hike the price of produce or impact how much food will be available for us at the store. So at this point, it’s a waiting game. “It’s about 105 degrees right now,” said John Boelts, the owner of Desert Premium Farms in Yuma.

Some Arizona farmers are already dealing with damaged crops because of the extreme heat and are now preparing for a big change over the next 24 to 48 hours, with their eyes on Kay. “We are in the process of planting all of the lettuce that will harvest in November right now. So it can disrupt our planting plans and certainly disrupt a lot of things when we have rainfall here in a place where we don’t normally count on having any rainfall,” Boelts said.

He says farmers welcome the rain, but in this case, the possibility of too much in such a short time could be harmful. “It can wipe out a whole crop pretty easily,” Boelts said. “When the fruit is getting larger and mature, you can get spotting and damage and sometimes fungus will begin to grow.”

Boelts says date and cotton harvests are underway right now. His concern is the unknown of how strong the storm will be when it reaches his farm. “We struggle with cotton harvest because if we get real intense storms, it can damage the crop and take the cotton right off of the crop and put it on the ground and at that point, there’s no way to get it,” Boelts said.

Philip Bashaw is the Arizona Farm Bureau’s CEO, representing 2,400 farmers and ranchers. “About 90% of the leafy greens consumed in the United States in the winter months actually come from Yuma Arizona,” Bashaw said.

He says weather impacts every farmer differently. It’s a domino effect, eventually impacting the consumer. John explains how. “Those weather conditions we experienced here will result in limited supply and much higher prices in November,” Boelts said.

John says in a perfect world, the rain would fall north of him, in the Colorado River Valley, an area hit hard with water cuts by the federal government.