Published 4:25 am Saturday, December 29, 2018

Blame it on the weather, but Southerners may have a hard time finding collard greens for New Year’s.

Collards symbolize money for many in the South, and eating them with black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is supposed to bring prosperity in the coming year.

In Andalusia, Piggly Wiggly can’t even order any more greens because of the shortage, according to produce manager Mike Batchelor.

“What they are telling us is that there is a shortage because of the hurricane,” Batchelor said. “During the growing season where they are at got affected by Hurricane Michael so there is a massive shortage all over the nation.”

In the Carolinas, summer rains flooded the crop; California’s fall Santa Ana winds damaged leaves so badly they couldn’t be sold, and smoke from wildfires kept workers from harvesting. Growers in other areas harvested early to make up for the spoiled crops, and October’s Hurricane Michael stunted crops in Georgia, which has the largest reported acreage of collard greens of any state in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Since there was a shortage from their usual collard supplier, Batchelor said that the store had to buy locally, but now that supplier is out of collards as well.

“We had to start buying locally because of the shortage,” Batchelor said. “But now we can even get them from there, because he doesn’t have anymore.”

For people who are still superstitious about needing to have greens on New Year’s Eve, there is another option, Batchelor said.

“We still have plenty of mustard greens and turnip greens,” Batchelor said. “We can’t even order collards through the warehouse, but there are plenty of two pound mustard and turnips.”

As of Friday, Pic N Sav still had collard greens on their shelves.

Pic N Save produce manager Dale Alexander said that they have been stocking them in their store.

“We have definitely noticed the shortage,” Alexander said. “But we have a limited supply of it.”

Alexander said that they have been steadily busy with customers coming in to buy the vegetable and they are running out fast.

“We have been pretty steady,” Alexander said. “We will probably pick up in business on Sunday and Monday because of the holiday.”

Eating these greens and pairing them with black-eyed peas is supposed to usher in prosperity for many in the South, especially Andalusia local Ann Grantham.

“Everyone says that black-eyed peas are for good luck,” Grantham said. “I have always cooked them. If I don’t do it then I won’t have good luck, and I need all the luck I can get.”