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California Sees Normal Kiwifruit Shipments; Rivermaid Adds Growers to Increase Pear Shipments

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DSCN0861Initial California kiwifruit shipments got underway in early October and normal shipments are expected through April.

Preliminary estimates has the crop at 10.9 million, 7-pound trays for the hayward variety.  For non-hayward green or gold varieties, the forecast is 1 million units.

Trinity Fruit Sales Co. Inc. of Fresno started shipping the first week in October and has described the crop as “really good.”

Greene & Hemly Inc. of Courtland notes shipping of gold varieties of kiwi has just gotten underway.  The company is a grower for Sun Pacific Marketing of Pasadena.  The operation is reporting no quality problems with kiwi despite the excessive daytime heat this year, describing San Joaquin Valley temperatures this season as normal.  Gold kiwis are said to be more sensitive to hot temperatures or dry humidity that is common with 100-degree heat, but many operations are putting the fruit under shade structures to reduce the effects of the temperatures.

 Western Fresh Marketing Services Inc. of Madera is expecting normal kiwi shipments and expressed concerns about adequate water and labor, as well as the unknown of how much kiwi will be imported from Italy.  But overall the company is optimistic about this season and sees a good crop.

In upcoming seasons greater green kiwifruit shipments from California are seen because of increased acreage.

San Joaquin Valley kiwi and table grapes – grossing about $5200 to Chicago.

Rivermaid

Rivermaid Trading Co. of Lodi, CA has added two new growers to its Northwest pear program this season, which should increase it’s pear shipments by 18 percent. The company expects to market more than 1 million 44-pound carton equivalents of pears out of the Northwest this year.

Overall company pear shipments, including California, should exceed 2 million units.

Rivermaid Trading has described its California and Northwest pear season as really unique to the apple and pear industrys.   What makes is so unique is the operation says it has figured out how to do it without the two areas competing with each other.

Rivermaid now has nine growers and is looking to add two more next season.

 

 

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Strawberries Lead in Value of Ventura County Produce Crops

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A14

 

California’s Ventura County strawberries remains the top crop and the county’s 10 leading crops in terms of value are mostly fruits and vegetables, according to the Ventura County Crop & Livestock Report for 2017.  The report details changes in value for different fruits and vegetables.

Kale, riding a wave of popularity in recent years, dropped off the top 10 list in 2017, replaced by cabbage.  Celery moved up a slot to Number 3, switching places with nursery stock.

The 10 leading crops in Ventura County in 2017, with values in millions from 2017 and (2016), and ranking last season:

 

  1. 1. Strawberries $654.3, ($654.9, No.1)
  2.  2, Lemons $258.6, ($276, No. 2)
  3. Celery $210.4, ($202.4, No. 4)
  4. Nursery stock $198, (206.8, No. 3)
  5. Raspberries $166.7, ($171.2, No. 5)
  6. Avocados $118.7 ($129, No. 6)
  7. Cut flowers $49.9 ($48, No. No. 8)
  8. Tomatoes $47.5 ($48, No. 9)
  9. Peppers $45.8 ($61.1 No. 7)
  10. Cabbage $33.9 ($29.5; not on list)

Other million-dollar crops in the county this year, and value in millions, include kale ($31.6); total lettuce ($29.9); cilantro ($25.1); and blueberries ($20.8).

Organic fruit and nut production in Ventura County continued to grow in 2017, with total value going from $133.4 million from 5,019 acres to $167.1 million on 6,260 acres, according to the report.

Organic vegetables and herbs in Ventura County, however, dropped, from $40.7 million from 2,290 acres in 2016, to $30.2 million from 2,500 acres.

Throughout the report, growers tell their stories on how the Thomas Fire affected their operations in the last year. The fire broke out in early December and lasted just over a month, burning homes and affecting lemon and avocado production. At the time, it was the largest wildfire in California history, but it has already been surpassed by fires this summer. According to the report, the stories/testimonials serve “as a tribute to the strength and resilience of Ventura County’s agricultural industry …”

“Avocados take several years to come into production,” Deborah Brokaw Jackson of Brokaw Ranch Co., said in the report. “Even if we could replant right away, we are looking at about six years to full recovery.”

She said about 40% of the company’s avocado trees — 60 acres —are unlikely to make a full recovery, and nurseries in the region won’t have trees available until 2021 due to demand.

Gordon Kimball of Kimball Ranch said his operation’s recovery will also be long-term.

“The challenges we are facing due to the Thomas Fire are economic losses and financing the operation going forward,” Kimball said in the report. “Not all of the costs scale down by the reduction in tree count. Then there’s getting the replacement trees since the nurseries were sold out two years before the fire.”

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Mission Produce Opens New Ripening, Distribution Center in Portland, Oregon

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DSCN0857by Mission Produce

Mission Produce, the industry leader in producing, distributing, and marketing fresh Hass avocados has opened a state-of-the-art, ripening and distribution center in Portland, Ore. This new forward distribution center (FDC), will expand Mission’s capabilities in the Pacific-Northwest.

“Portland, Ore., is a great location for our new FDC,” stated Ben Barnard, Vice President of Global Partnerships and Business Development. “This new facility at 58,000 square feet, will expand our ripe capacity by providing 10 ripe rooms that are each capable of storing 24 pallets. Also, the facility will enhance our cold storage by offering two coolers and a cutting-edge refrigerated control system,” continued Barnard. In addition to coolers, a refrigerated control system, and ripe rooms, the Portland facility will house five functional refrigerated loading docks and five temporary non-refrigerated docks.

“Mission is extremely excited about this new facility,” added Steve Barnard, President, and CEO. “We are always looking ahead and considering the demand for avocados. Our continued growth within the ripe category is necessary. This FDC is strategically positioned in Portland, Ore., to broaden our ripe capacities in the Pacific-Northwest region, keeping Mission within a 24-hour truck-drive away anywhere nationwide.”

Mission hosted a grand opening of the new facility last August. The event was for customers and potential partners to tour the FDC and meet members of the Mission team from quality, sales, and ripening. “Our team of Mission trained experts were thrilled to host this grand opening. They are ready to continue assisting the Pacific-Northwest region with their ripening expertise and knowledge of the avocado industry standards,” stated Ryan Fink, Vice President of North American Operations. “By continuing to expand our facilities, we are able to better serve our growing customer base with additional capacity to react when needed. Also, with the upgraded refrigeration and ripening controls we are able to continue to monitor and ensure conditions stay optimal to deliver the highest quality fruit to our customers daily.”

About Mission Produce:

Mission Produce owns and operates state-of-the-art avocado packing facilities in multiple global locations including California, Mexico, and Peru. In addition, the company’s global distribution network includes 11 ripening and distribution centers in North America, China, and Europe.

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U.S. Arrivals of Argentina Blueberries by Boat to Increase

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A2Air shipments continue to be the dominant mode of transportation for U.S. imports of Argentina blueberries, but shipments by boat increased in 2017, according to the USDA.

Even bigger volume of sea shipments is expected this year.  Although initial arrivals began in September, October had 49 percent of the total volume and November had 39 percent of the volume in 2017, with the season ending in early December.

Air shipments accounted for 85 percent of all Argentina blueberry volume in 2017, down from 98 percent of volume for air in 2015.

Still, Argentina’s air shipments of blueberries are far above those of its South American competitors.

The ag department reported air shipments of Peruvian blueberries accounted for 6.3 percent of total imports in 2017.  For Chile, air shipments accounted for 12 percent of U.S. imports in 2017.

Argentina blueberry exporters will be shipping more fruit to the U.S. by boat through Chile this year, which has a transit time of 17 days.

About 35 percent of Argentina blueberries will be exported to the U.S. by sea containers this year.

The 2017 Season

The USDA reports Argentina blueberry imports to the U.S. in 2017 at the Miami airport, accounted for about 64 percent of the total imports, compared with 76 percent in 2016 and 55 percent in 2015.

Boat shipments of blueberries to Philadelphia/Camden accounted for 13 percent of U.S. imports in 2017, up significantly from 3.4 percent in 2016 and 1.6 percent in 2015.

 Imports of 12.1 percent of Argentina blueberry imports arrived at JFK Airport in New York in 2017, up from 7.6 percent in 2016 and 4.2 percent in 2015.

The Giumarra Cos. of Los Angeles had it’s first Argentina blueberry air arrivals during the first week of September, and will be receiving product into early December.

Giumarra also is increasing its volume of fruit the company receives in bulk and by vessel this season from Argentina.

This reasoning allows the operation to avoid fumigation for both the organic and conventional fruit.  Giumarra then will pack the fruit in the U.S. in order to ensure its customers are receiving freshly packed product and in the pack type they require.

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Ecuadorian Dragon Fruit (Pitahaya)Imports by U.S. Soar in First Year

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A15Following only one season of exporting dragon fruit, also known as pitahaya, the U.S. has become Ecuador’s second-largest market.

Quito-based Agricola Pitacava of Quito has shipped 40 metric tons of the tropical fruit, also known as pitahaya, to the U.S. compared to last season.

Ecuador exported 68 metric tops to its leading market, Hong Kong.

Market access by U.S. authorities was granted in June 2017, followed by the first exports taking place in September.

Some observers note the U.S. market, which now has a lot of people from Asia living it, turns out to be better than expected.  Asians are familiar with red dragon fruit, as well as yellow dragon fruit.

Agricola Pitacava reports its exports to the U.S.  are a little over 18 percent of its total volume of 220 metric tons, which also include exports to the Netherlands, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Ecuador’s export volume to the U.S. in the first year is unprecedented.   For example, it took 5 years for Hong Kong to become the company’s top export market after it opened in 2013.  There is a lot of optimism regarding the U.S. market, not only because of its large population, but it has higher incomes. This is important because is seen as one of the most expensive fruits.

Pitahaya often costs around $8 per pound in the U.S., compared to HKD69 (U.S. $8.80)  in Hong Kong.  In Europe the pitahayas are sold by per piece at €8 – 10 (US$9 – 11.50).

Consumer preferences vary widely between the west and the east regarding dragon fruit, or pitahaya.  For example,  in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, there is a preference for bigger fruit, of 300g and above.  However in the U.S. consumers do not for pitahaya sizes and are purchasing smaller sizes from 180g to the big fruit that could be 450g.

 

 

 

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Fewer U.S. Apple Shipments this Season, but There Still will be Good Volume

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C3Just about everyone is in agreement there will be fewer U.S. apple shipments this season, which extends into the late summer of 2019.  How many fewer, depends upon whom you ask.

The U.S. Apple Association is predicting 256.16 million, 42-pound cartons will be shipped.  This is 6 percent below the USDA’s forecast, as well a 6 percent less than a year ago.

Western Apple Shipments

More specifically, the U.S. Apple Association is predicting this season’s Washington apple shipments will be at 155 million cartons, which is 10 percent below the USDA’s  forecast of 171.4 million cartons.  The U.S. Apple estimate for Washington is off 13 percent from 2017 shipments and 5 percent below the five-year average.

Washington growers reported that

The early harvested apple crop has fallen short of the expectations of Washington growers due to uneven bloom timing, which resulted in uneven maturity rates in orchards.

In total, Western U.S. apple shipments are estimated at 166.2 million cartons, off 9 percent from the USDA’s estimate and 12 percent below a year ago.

Midwest and Eastern Apple Shipments

The U.S. Apple Association and USDA figures pretty well match for Michigan and New York. The U.S. Apple estimates for New York is 31 million cartons, unchanged from the USDA estimate of 30.9 million cartons and the same as last year’s output.

Michigan apple shipments estimated U.S. Apple stand at 28 million cartons, unchanged from the USDA’s 27.96 million carton estimate.  Michigan’s forecasted crop is 40 percent above a year ago and 8 percent higher than the five-year average.

Michigan accounts for about 90 percent of Midwest apple shipments.

BelleHarvest Fruit Sales Inc. of Belding, MI reports while this season’s forecast shows a nice rebound in volume, it falls short of the record 2016 apple shipments of 30.4 million cartons.

Fifty percent of the Michigan apple crop will consist of Fuji, Honeycrisp and gala, a number expected to increase in coming years.

The U.S. Apple estimate for the Midwest stands at 31.6 million cartons, virtually unchanged from the USDA estimate of 31.4 million cartons and up 35 percent from a year ago.

Eastern Apple Shipments

Crist Brothers Apple Orchards of Walden, NY points out various apple shipping regions in the East have similar volume to last year, which includes New England’s Vermont, which had some dry weather.

Virginia apple shipments have experienced excessive rains since last May and June, but is still expecting normal shipments.

Pennsylvania apple shipments are expected to total 12-million bushels, down 5 percent from last year.

New York apple shipments from Hudson Valley should be similar to the five-year average.

Western New York shipments are predicted to be about the same as a year ago.

The U.S. Apple estimate predicts Eastern U.S. apple shipments to total  58.4 million cartons, nearly unchanged from the USDA’s estimate of 58.7 million cartons and down only 1 percent from a year ago.

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Hurricane Michael Clobbers Vegetables in Georgia

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DSCN0568Fall vegetable shipments from Georgia are not typically as heavy as those of summer, but those in the ground were hit hard by Hurricane Michael.  Just how hard will not be known for awhile.

The Category 4 hurricane hit near Mexico Beach in the Florida Panhandle and weakened to a tropical storm before sweeping across Georgia and the Carolinas. The fast moving storm moved out of Georgia on the morning of October 11th.  The storm tracked across Georgia at a northeast bearing, moving from Bainbridge to Cordele and then Warner Robins, GA.

Wind was the primary cause of damage to crop with 75-mph winds taking a heavy toll.  Near the path of the storm, cucumber, green bean and squash plants were broken by the wind.

Many of Georgia’s vegetable growers also grow cotton, which was devastated by the storm.  Heavy damage to Georgia’s pecan crop also is expected. A good portion of Georgia’s vegetable growing areas, such as Lake Park, were south of the storm’s path.

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Colorado’s San Luis Valley Potato Shipments Look Similar to a Year Ago

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DSCN0869With good growing weather, Colorado’s San Luis Valley potato industry is expecting good shipments with volume repeating that of a year ago.

The valley has around 52,000 acres of potatoes planted for this season.  There has been an increase in organic potato acreage.

Farm Fresh Direct of Monte Vista, CO reports solid growing conditions this season with decent weather to produce potatoes.  While the volume on conventional potato shipments is about the same, the company reports organic volume should see a slight increase.  It began digging russet potatoes the week of August 27, which followed the new crop of organic reds and yellows the week of August 20th.

A similar report came from Rocky Farms of Center, CO, which described the past summer as being ideal for growing potatoes.

Rocky Farms began shipping a limited amount of spuds the week of September 3rd and began loading in larger volumes October 1st, on a similar schedule with previous years.

At Skyline Potato Co. of Center, CO, also had a normal start to the season with fields producing good quality potatoes.

While San Luis Valley potato growers most often mention water as the primary issue (could use more), there also were concerns over increasing freight rates and labor issues.  Freight rates were expected to continue increasing as the holidays approach.  Colorado implemented minimum wage increases that continue through 2020.

Truck shortages were cited as a common problem and no one was expecting any decline in freight rates.  With a roaring economy, labor was not expected to get any better.  As a result, the industry continues to look more to automation.

Idaho continues to lead the nation in potato shipments with over 40 percent of the total volume.  Colorado potato shipments rank second, while Wisconsin ranks third.  In fourth place is the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota.

Colorado potatoes – grossing about $3400 to Atlanta.

 

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Updates on 2 Potato and Onion Shippers in Idaho and Oregon

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A348Potato shipper Eagle Eye Produce, headquartered in Idaho Falls, ID, is loading potatoes out of Mattawa, WA, and Pioche, NV, with farming operations at each location with production and shipping facilities on each farm….Meanwhile Oregon onion shipper River Point Farms is shipping onions year around.

Eagle Eye Produce has found the Nevada growing area offers ideal growing for potatoes due to isolation and dry climate.  This reduces disease issues which often hinders other growing regions.   The company has a climate-controlled storage on site, providing it with the ability to ship potatoes starting in September and going through May.

In Mattawa, the Eagle Eye facility will provide about 2,500 truck loads of product available for shipment with a high percentage of No. 1’, which means excellent quality that is shipped to foodservice customers.

Eagle Eye started its new crop potato shipments on August 1st and will continue shipping through next July, which means it has potatoes year-round.

Eagle Eye Produce reports trucking and transportation issues remains one of the biggest challenges with the company and the produce industry.

This is resulting in Eagle Eye searching for alternate means of transportation for shipping product ranging from rail, to cold connect, and intermodal.  There operation also has its own logistic department with a fleet of trucks that helps reduces the challenges it faces with transportation.

River Point Farms

River Point Farms, based in Hermiston, OR, is a vertically integrated, source-based onion supplier shipping whole skin-on, whole peel and cut onions to market 52 weeks per year.

The company is one of the largest onion shippers in the United States growing between 400 to 500 million pounds of onions annually.  The firm has yellow, red, sweet yellow, sweet red, white and organic yellows on its farms in the Columbia Basin.  River Point has a state-of-the-art packing and storage facilities allowing it to grow, store, pack and process quality onions year-round.

River Point Farms started its new crop of onion shipments in late June.

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Removing the Bottom 10% of Company Employees

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img_6361By Larry Oscar

With beer in hand a friend of mine asked our eclectic group of old fogies one afternoon about the business practice of removing the company employees that are on the bottom 10 percent of company performers on an annual basis.

This is a common practice in business. One of one of the best CEOs in history, Jack Welch of GE, discusses this in his book Straight From the Gut. It may seem like a cruel thing to do to the bottom company performers, but in reality it is a must. For one thing it is not fair to the other 90 percent by making them carry the poor performance of those in the bottom 10 percent. And upon a close examination good business management requires you face the reality of the situation. It was W.E. Deming, the father of the quality movement in the 1970s -1990s that said that all workers want to do a good job. With that in mind a good manager needs to ask the question “What causes the bottom 10 percent to fail in their job performance?”

Nobody wants to be a drag on the other employees in the company. It is demeaning to your self esteem. So what is the problem? The answers to that question are as varied as the personalities of the people. Many are simply not in a job that gives them enough satisfaction to perform well. Some have been put into jobs that they do not have the education, skills, or talent to accomplish. They may have taken the job because it pays well, or they may have assumed it was going to be more satisfying than it turned out to be. This is not a new problem.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. In the early 1970s I was working in outside sales for The Foxboro Company. The company manufactured instrumentation and control systems for the process industries. They were a leader in quality products and the technology of the time. Shortly after I joined the company one of our other employees in outside sales left for a position closer to his home. Our office manager hired a young engineer from Sun Pipeline Company to fill the vacancy. Buddy was a good engineer and had always wanted to see what outside sales was like. It was a job that attracted him. After all it came with a company car, an expense account, and you were not tied to a desk all day. All in all this was a well paying attractive position. What more could you want?

Well Buddy lasted a little over a year before he returned to Sun Pipeline. He told me that at Sun Pipeline he could leave his desk and go home to his family. The outside sales job here was a 24/7 business. Even when he was at home his mind was constantly thinking about the job. His performance reflected the stress of the job. It wasn’t that Buddy could not do the work. It was that the work required a sacrifice that Buddy didn’t want to make. And not many people can fit into this type of job. It can be a home wrecker.

Buddy became a Vice President for Sun Pipeline and today he has his own consulting business. He has had a fruitful and successful career. Hats off to Buddy. He possessed the ability to recognize that he was not cut out for outside sales and took appropriate steps to rectify the situation.  This brings us back to the problem of the bottom 10 percent. You see, many people are not as smart as Buddy. They continue in a position they will never succeed in. They need a push. Companies are not government social programs or government agencies that let people become zombies in their work. This is one of the reasons why our government agencies have so many problems in performing.

Company managers are not doing the bottom 10 percent any favors by tolerating poor performance. The best thing a good manger can do is face the reality of the situation and let them move on. They may not realize it at the time, but the absolute worst thing you can do to an employee is allow them to stay in a position that they cannot perform in. The same goes for people who own their own businesses. They start a business and soon become trapped in the situation after they discover that the business they thought was going to be great simply is not.

Your work should be satisfying to your soul. You should have a sense of accomplishment when all is said and done. If not, make a change. It is better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all. And just because you fail at something does not mean you will fail at everything. Many times you can learn from failures better than successes. Humans are adaptable. The risk of failure is a fact of life, but it should not be a roadblock to our Constitutional right to pursue happiness.

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