Not only are we nearing the peak shipping season from California, which accounts for about half of the nation’s fresh produce, but other areas, particularly in the upper mid-west and east are providing competition for trucks.
Caution Hauling Desert Items
Before I get into the Salinas and San Joaquin Valley shipments, use caution loading desert vegetables such as bell peppers and corn as temperatures well above 100 degrees have been occurring. It’s been really hot in the Coachella and Imperial valleys, as well as Arizona’s Yuma district. Little or no report of heat damage has yet been reported but keep your eyes peeled for scalding and other heat symptoms in the days ahead. Even watermelons can suffer if prolonged heat occurs.
Dozens of different kinds of vegetables are being shipped from the Salinas area. But the big volume items are various types of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower. There also is decent volume with brussel sprouts and celery. Nearby Castroville is the artichoke capital of the world, while nearby Watsonville is ground zero for strawberry shipments.
San Joaquin Valley
This report will focus primarily on summer from from the SJV. We’ll soon cover the many vegetables coming into volume.
Stone fruit, led by peaches, plums and nectarines, are just getting underway from the southern part of the valley.
The consensus appear to be that around 40 to 43 million boxes of stone fruit will be shipped this year from the San Joaquin Valley, which would be pretty average when looking at the volume for the past five years.
California cherry shipments are building and hitting good volume just prior to the Memorial weekend (May 25-27). However, winds damaged 40 to 50% of the early variety Rainier cherries around Bakersfield on May 5th.
There also was some wind damage to almond trees in the Bakersfield area.
Last year, California shipped a record 101.5 milion boxes of grapes. The Coachella Valley, which is shipping now, accounts for 10 percent or less of this volume. The rest comes from the San Joaquin Valley, starting with the Arvin District in late June.
Apple shipments, which took at 30 percent hit last year, are expected to return to normal this year. Beginning in July, California apple shipments get underway, but this is minor (2 million boxes) compared to Washington state (129 million boxes predicted).
Located near Bakersfield, Kern County ships a lot carrots and potatoes, althouigh this time of the year you will get a better freight rate hauling more perishable items ranging from lettuce to stone fruit, grapes and berries.
Kern County potatoes shipments started about a week ago. Due to so much over production of russet potatoes around the country, this variety has been reduced by up to 75 percent. Russets have been replaced primarily with red, yellow and white potatoes.
When Kern County growers are not planting carrots or potatoes in their fields, they use bell peppers as a rotation crop. Bell peppers loadings are just starting and building in volume, continuing until November.
Salinas vegetables – grossing about $5200 to Chicago.
California desert vegetables – about $7300 to New York City.