As the month of March progresses, produce shippers will be transitioning to the coastal valleys of California as well as the Huron district on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. However, for now primary vegetables shipments continue from the desert regions of California and Arizona. But shipping gapes in the weeks ahead are certain.
Loadings for some early season cauliflower and broccoli should start from the Salinas Valley in mid-March. Meanwhile desert lettuce shipments will shift to Huron (San Joaquin Valley) by the end of March. However it be early April before lettuce and leaf items are shipped from Salinas. This is when the shipping gaps will start and the issues will continue at least until May.
A couple of hours drive to the south a very similar scenario is seen in Santa Maria. The broccoli and cauliflower currently being harvested has quality issues due to relentless recent rains.
Quality is expected to gradually improve along with volume throughout March, but yields and loadings will be down along with supply gaps.
Vegetable shipments from the California and Arizona deserts should finish during the third week of March.
In Southern California, rains hit strawberry fields and volume is slowly improving, but still struggling to get back to normal. Decent strawberry shipments are expected by the third week of March from Ventura County. While Southern California strawberries are working to regain good volume, shipments from Florida and Mexico are starting to decline. Both those areas of origin are well above their shipping levels compared to the same time in 2016.
Florida and Mexico had a combined volume of about 36 million cartons compared to about half that in late February 2016. For the past two years, those two production areas have combined to ship around 50 million trays to U.S. markets.
In late February, California had shipped just 3 million crates compared to the close to 200 million it typically ships in a calendar year.