I’m in Georgia this week checking out the crops and visiting with shippers to give you a better idea of loading opportunities as we progress into spring. I’m also visiting with some of you at truck stops along the Interstate 75 corridor.
Vidalia sweet onion shipments were not to legally start before April 21st (at least until a Georgia court ruled otherwise and struck it down), which was the date set by the state’s ag commissioner. Colder weather has put the onions behind schedule. Don’t expect good volume before May. While some observers are predicting shipments could be off as much as 25 percent this season, others are taking a wait and see attitude to measure yields.
Overall, you probably won’t be getting loaded in the Southeast without having multiple pick ups. That could mean starting with pick ups in Florida and finishing off the load with additional pick ups in Georgia. The volume is just not there.
Meanwhile, there is light to moderate shipments of various greens from central and southern Georgia. Items ranging from vegetables such as cucumbers and squash are still a month or more away from being harvested.
Georgia has become a major shipper of blueberries with volume increasing each year. Intial loadings of “blues” will start in April, with good volume arriving in early May.
Another big item for Georgia are watermelons. While current loadings are occurring in Florida, where the harvest gradually moves northward, and usually ends by early June. This is about the time George watermelon shipments get underway.
Finally, the Georgia peach bloom in the Fort Valley area is beautiful. Shipping should get underway the last half of May. If weather conditions hold over the next month there could be up to 2.2 million boxes of Georgia peaches shipped this season. However, there is a freeze forecast for Tuesday night, March 25th. It will take a bit to assess any damage.
— Bill Martin