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Springtime Melon Shipments Look Promising in Different Areas of the U.S.

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A17We are well into springtime and that means melon shipments are underway, or soon will be from shipping areas across the country.  Decent volume is expected by at least some areas by the middle of May.  Here is a brief look at the plans of a few melon shippers located in different area of the U.S.


For example Five Crowns Marketing of Brawley, CA  plans to start shipping watermelons from the Imperial Valley about May 1st just as imported melons are wanning. It also will be shipping mini watermelons later in the season from Arizona.

Legend Produce Dos Palos, CA, located in the Merced area of the San Joaquin Valley, should start shipping within the next week as it transitions from importing melons from Guatemala and Honduras.

Likewise Pacific Trellis Fruit/Dulcinea Farms  of Los Angeles will begin cantaloupe shipments, as well as yellow personal watermelons from the Yuma, AZ area around the middle of May.

Del Mar Packing of Westley, CA. located about 15 miles southwest of Modesto, starts its melon season in early July.


Dixondale Farms of Carrizo Springs, TX, located about 115 miles Southwest of San Antonio, is the state’s largest grower and shippers of cantaloupes, with loadings to start in May.


Jackson Farming Co. is headquartered in Autryville, NC, but ships from several areas on the East Coast plans  It will kick off its seeded and seedless watermelon season with shipments out of Bradenton, FL the second week of May, and expects to have good volume leading up to Memorial Day.  Then the company will be shifting production to Leslie, GA., with peak volume plans for loadings leading up for the Fourth of July with seedless watermelons.  Jackson’s final stop of the season is the Autryville operation that ships watermelons, cantaloupes and honeydew melons through Labor Day.

The company plans to increase its North Carolina on seedless watermelon volume close 20 percent this season.

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Trucks Remain Tight, Rates Higher in Many Western U.S. Produce Shipping Areas

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A18As produce rates remain higher than normal for this time of the year and equipment and drivers are in short supply, here is a round up of several active shipping areas in the Western half of the United States.

At Nogales, watermelons crossing the border from Mexico are providing the heaviest volume as many winter vegetable items are nearing the end of a season.  Over 800 truck loads of Mexican melons are being shipped weekly and volume is still increasing.  Mexican tomato shipments are exceeding 600 truck loads a week, with a similar amount of cucumbers.  A big crop of Mexican table grapes will be crossing the border in good volume within a couple of weeks….Lettuce from the Yuma area is quickly coming to a seasonal end.

Mexican produce through Nogales – grossing about $3600 to Chicago.

California produce shipments

Salina Valley vegetables lead by broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce are in light, but increasing volume.  It will help test the ability of the produce trucking industry to supply the equipment and drivers necessary when the Salinas Valley hits full stride in May, along with fruits and vegetables from the San Joaquin Valley. There’s not numbers yet, but the valley’s stone fruit volume is expected to be down significantly from weather factors.  Kern County carrots are averaging over 400 truck loads per week.  Many other items will be available for loading in the coming weeks.

Northwest Produce Shipments

As usual Washington apples are the volume leader averaging over 3000 truck load equivalents per week…..Washington’s Columbia Basin and the adjacent Oregon Umatilla Basin are shipping nearly 700 truck loads of onions weekly and about 375 truck loads of potatoes….Meanwhile Idaho is shipping in excess of 1900 truck load equivalents of potatoes weekly.

Yakima Valley apples – grossing about $4000 to Dallas.

Texas Produce Shipments

Mexican avocados and watermelons continue to cross the border at Pharr in heavy volume. Mexican tropical fruits such as mangoes are increasing, as are Mexican tomatoes.  Mexican sweet onions continue being imported, but its season will be winding down and sweet onions grown in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are increasing.

Mexican produce through South Texas – grossing about $5800 to New York City.

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The Appeal of Electric Trucks; Acquisition of Mann is Completed by Del Monte

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A34The appeal of big rig electric trucks may be even bigger than thought….Plus, Del Monte completes its acquisition of Mann Packing.

Electric Trucks

Testla Inc. is the maker of the long-distance class-8 electric trucks scheduled to be introduced in 2019.  Now some fans of the new truck believe they will pay off the difference between electric and diesel trucks in as little as 18 months.  Jim Monkmeyer, president of DHL Supply Chain, who is one of the first to order the electric trucks, recent told Reuters the new trucks could pay for themselves this fast because of energy usage and low maintenance costs.  Engines for electric trucks are said to be much simpler in relation to the number of parts and complexities of the parts.

Additionally, based on the assumption diesel fuel costs will remain high, plus costs are projected to decrease for electric trucks, the saving could be even more than originally anticipated. anticipated.

Sysco Corp. of Houston already contracted to by 50 tractor-trailers,  while Meijer Inc. of Grand Rapids, MI is set up for an electric truck test drive.

Del Monte/Mann Acquisition

 Fresh Del Monte Produce of Coral Gables, FL  has finalized its acquisition of Mann Packing Co. Inc. of Salinas, CA for about $361 million.

Del Monte has been for years associated primarily with bananas, but more recently has been diversifying its business.  Purchasing Mann accelerates its efforts to become more invested in fresh-cut.  Its sales in the segment for 2017 were $607.8 million, up 18 percent from the previous year.

Mann’s product offering is roughly 50-50 between bulk vegetables and fresh-cut.   Del Monte recently spelled out some of its plans to incorporate Mann into its operations.  It was noted Mann is mainly on the West Coast with much less of a presence in the Northeast, but has little activity in the Southeast and Southwest of the U.S.  Thus, Del Monte is looking to develop new business in those regions.  It also is looking leverage its infrastructure across the U.S. to improve marketing and distribution of Mann Packing products.

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Produce Loading Opportunities Found East of the Rocky Mountains

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Red Semi Truck Climbing Hill On Interstate HighwayHere is a glimpse of some produce loading opportunities found east of the Rocky Mountains, stretching to the East Coast.

Florida is entering its last few weeks of spring vegetable shipments.  Sweet corn is averaging 700 – plus truck loads per week primarily from central and southern areas of the state, while just under 700 truck loads of  mature green tomatoes are being shipped weekly.  There also is decent volume coming from red potatoes and cabbage, with lighter volume on cabbages and dozens of other vegetables.  A biggie when it comes to shipments is yet to arrive.  Watermelon loadings are in light volume but rapidly increasing.

Florida vegetables – grossing about $3300 to New York City.

Chilean imported grapes totaled around 1200 truck loads arriving by boat last week, primarily at the Ports of Philadelphia and Long Beach, CA.  However, expected is a significant decline in volume as Chilean grapes come to a seasonal end.

Sweet potato shipments are pretty steady from the Eastern part of North Carolina averaging around 400 truck loads per week.  This is triple the amount of volume coming out of California, Louisiana and Mississippi combined.

New York state is shipping light amounts of apples, but they are coming from scattered areas across much of the states.  There also is light volume with cabbage and onions.

Michigan is moving about 100 truck loads of apples from the western half of the state, plus light amounts of potatoes and onions, many which are being brought in from other growing areas for repacking and distribution.

Michigan apples – grossing about $3800 to Boston.

The Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota have light volume with red potatoes averaging about 200 truck loads weekly, while shippers in the Central area of Wisconsin are shipping similar amounts of russets.

In the Southeastern part of Colorado, around 625 truck loads of russet potatoes are being loaded each week.

Colorado and Wisconsin potatoes – both averaging about $3000 to Atlanta.





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We Have Always Been a Nation Divided – and It’s by Design

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IMG_6364By Larry Oscar

My how time seems to fly by.   This column (Zingers) has had a controversial life for over 13 years.   The Wave (a newsletter of which my Zingers column appears), being a early adapter of fake news, has provided many articles for our readers to think and laugh about. Most filled with half truths that require some thought as to their accuracy and credible content. The Zingers section was originally written to make people think about how they think.

Many subjects of politics are shunned by newsletters, but Zingers fears no man and lays it out for all to consider. We have tried to present views that approach the subject of the day for all to contemplate and relate to the readers lives. We understand that many of our readers have diametrically opposed views about life, but that should not stop us from discourse on controversial subjects. Which leads us to the subject of this article.

For some time now we have all heard complaints about our nation being “divided.”  For some reason this seems to be news to people.  So here we go….NEWS FLASH!!!!…We have always been a divided nation.  In fact the only times we have been united were in times of war with outside enemies. We are designed to be a divided nation.

Our nation is a collection of individual states that are to be the principal governance of the people that live within the state. The federal government was designed to provide only narrow areas of governance. Those areas are defense against external and internal threats, provide an administration of justice, and regulate fair commerce between the states and other nations.

Unfortunately we have strayed way beyond the original intent of our nation as designed by the founding fathers.  This is the reason our federal government seems not to be working.  We are trying to make the federal government do things  it was never designed to do.

You wouldn’t use a screw driver to hammer in a nail would you?  Then why would you expect the federal government to do what the state governments are designed to do?  The answer to that question is that many of our people and leaders are confused about what the roll of each should be.  We are a nation of extreme diversity.  Our founding fathers understood this and that is why we have such a heavy emphasis on state governments.  Each state has it’s own constitution that governs its people.  Some vary greatly.  Now why is that? The answer is to allow for the diversity of the culture of our many peoples.

With different cultures there is no “one size fits all” government solution. Some people have very emotional social needs and are fundamentally insecure.  They need to have many aspects of their life controlled, and they are emotionally satisfied by being part of a collective.  In fact, having to make life altering decisions is down right scary for these folks. Liberty for these people is not as important.  They will sacrifice their liberty for security.  Other people are independent and self-reliant. They must have the freedom to make their own decisions in life free from government control.  These people will fight and die for individual freedom.

When you consider these two extremes we must also understand that most people lie between these points of view. And each of them has a desire to live according to their tolerance of control versus freedom.  This diversity is what has made the United States a “melting pot” for the world.  We must never let the tyranny of the majority take root in our country and use an overpowering federal government to impose their version of liberty on the rest of us.  We must respect the rights of the people in each state to live differently.  If we continue to try to impose our will on others by using a strong and over regulating federal government our nation will dissolve.

Each state must stand on its own two feet. States must not turn to the federal government for a solution to every problem they have. Solutions and governments work best when they are closest to the people.  It is this fact that makes our current federal government bloated and inefficient. Adding more people to federal government bureaucracies and throwing more money at our problems is not the solution. The solution for government to work in a nation built on diversity rests in the principle government being the state governments.

Unfortunately, many states have done a poor job in governing themselves. They have turned to the federal government to do the jobs they should be responsible for.  We must hold all states accountable to their people.  And it’s OK to be divided on how we live our lives.  After all, we are just a big “box of chocolates.”

(Larry Oscar is a graduate from the University of Tulsa and holds a degree in electrical engineering. He is retired and lives with his wife on a lake in Oklahoma where he brews his own beer, sails, and is a member of numerous clubs and organizations.)

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Santa Maria Strawberry Shipments Play Significant Role in Total California Volume

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DSCN9805Sandwiched in between Ventura County to the south and the Watsonville area of the Salinas Valley to the north is Santa Mara.  It’s strawberry season typically overlaps with the other two neighboring growing districts and plays a significant role in the state’s total volume.

While weather delays cut volume for Easter, Santa Maria strawberry shipments are expected to play a key role.

Through March 24th, total volume for the year-from Santa Maria stood at 2.43 million trays, up from 1.89 million trays last year at the same time.  However, it was down from 4.04 million crates in 2016.

Total California strawberry shipments the week of March 24 were 907,000 crates, down about 70 percent from 3.31 million trays the same week last year and 80 percent less than the 4.27 million two years ago.  In fact, total California strawberry shipments the week of March 24 were 907,000 crates, down about 70% from 3.31 million trays the same week last year and 80 pecent lower than the 4.27 million two years ago.

A freeze a few weeks ago damaged blooms in Santa Maria, followed by rain during much of March, which cut volume for shippers such as  Gold Coast Packing Inc.,  of Santa Maria.

Total California strawberry shipments last year hit a record 206 million trays, up from the 2016 record of 197 million trays. The Santa Maria district shipped 66.7 million trays in 2017, up from 60.8 million trays in 2016.

Projected acreage for the Santa Maria district this season is 11,292 acres, down from 12,209 acres in 2017 and 11,817 acres in 2016.

Santa Maria’s fall planted acreage of 8,506 for winter, spring and summer production was off 3.4 pecent compared with 2017.  As a whole, Santa Maria accounted for 30.6 percent of California’s fall planted acreage for winter, spring and summer production, compared with 29.6 pecent last year.

Total fall planted acreage for winter, spring and summer production was estimated at 27,804 acres, down 6.5 percent from 2017.

Meanwhile, Santa Maria accounted for 2,786 acres for projected summer planted acreage for fall production, down 18 percent from 2017.  Santa Maria accounts for 46.5 pecent of California’s projected summer planted acreage for fall production, down from a 51.1 percent share a year ago.

The estimate for California’s total summer planted strawberry for fall production in 2018 is 5,998 acres, down 10.1 pecent compared with a year ago.

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Shipping Updates for Springtime Strawberries, Avocados and Apples

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DSCN0444Here are updates on strawberry, avocado and apple shipments.

As of April 7th California strawberry shipments had totaled around 17.5 million trays, which is over 3 million fewer trays than at the same time in 2017.  Likewise, at the same time two years ago  27.4 million trays of strawberries had been shipped.  Factors ranging from heavy rains to cold weather have been blamed for the lighter volume thus far this season.  Assuming improved growing conditions are ahead with the arrival of spring, California shipments are expected to increase soon to over 5 million trays per week and eventually exceed 8 million trays on a weekly basis.

Ventura County strawberries and vegetables – grossing about $7500 to New York City.

Avocado Shipments

If estimates hold about 60 million pounds of avocados will be shipped weekly during the month of April  Over 80 percent of the volume will be imports from Mexico.  With this kind of volume, avocado shipments leading up to Cinco de Mayo (May 5) will comparable to those weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.  The “Big Game” last February resulted in  200 million pounds of the fruit shipped in the four weeks leading up to the football game.

Mexican is in it second half of the season for shipping avocados.  More No. 2 product, is typically shipped this time of the season, but no significant quality issues are being reported.. California’s new season is well underway.

Mexican avocado and vegetables crossing through South Texas – grossing about $5800 to New York City.

Apple Shipments

Significantly more apples remain in U.S. storages as of early April than at this time a year ago.  About 61.3 million (42-pound) cartons of fresh apples were stored as of  April 1st, up 16 percent from 2017 when there were 53.1 million cartons remaining to be shipped, which is 18 percent greater than the five-year average of 51.8 million cartons.

Gala apples remaining is storage were 10.76 million cartons, up 11 percent from 9.6 million cartons in 2017 and 62 percent greater than 6.67 million cartons in 2016.

Fresh Honeycrisp available was at 3.38 million cartons, more than double the 1.45 million cartons in 2017 and 1.61 million cartons on hand two years ago.

Red delicious remaining to be shipped  were pegged at 15.65 million cartons, down 23 pecent compared with 20.2 million cartons in 2017 and up 7 percent from 14.6 million cartons two years ago.

Granny smith apples available were 10.1 million cartons, more than double the 4.8 million cartons in 2017 and 13 percent higher than 7.8 million cartons two years ago.

Yakima Valley apples – grossing about $6700 to New York City.

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Eating Vegetables and Fruit May Also Reduce Risk of Depression

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A3by American Academy of Neurology

MINNEAPOLIS — People who eat vegetables, fruit and whole grains may have lower rates of depression over time, according to a preliminary study released recently will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, April 21 to 27, 2018.

The study found that people whose diets adhered more closely to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet were less likely to develop depression than people who did not closely follow the diet. In addition to fruit and vegetables, the DASH diet recommends fat-free or low-fat dairy products and limits foods that are high in saturated fats and sugar.

Studies have shown health benefits such as lowering high blood pressure and bad cholesterol (LDL), along with lowering body weight.

“Depression is common in older adults and more frequent in people with memory problems, vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or people who have had a stroke,” said study author Laurel Cherian, MD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Making a lifestyle change such as changing your diet is often preferred over taking medications, so we wanted to see if diet could be an effective way to reduce the risk of depression.”

For the study, 964 participants with an average age of 81 were evaluated yearly for an average of six-and-a-half years. They were monitored for symptoms of depression such as being bothered by things that usually didn’t affect them and feeling hopeless about the future. They also filled out questionnaires about how often they ate various foods, and the researchers looked at how closely the participants’ diets followed diets such as the DASH diet, Mediterranean diet and the traditional Western diet.

Participants were divided into three groups based on how closely they adhered to the diets. People in the two groups that followed the DASH diet most closely were less likely to develop depression than people in the group that did not follow the diet closely. The odds of becoming depressed over time was 11 percent lower among the top group of DASH adherers versus the lowest group.

On the other hand, the more closely people followed a Western diet—a diet that is high in saturated fats and red meats and low in fruits and vegetables—the more likely they were to develop depression.  Cherian noted that the study does not prove that the DASH diet leads to a reduced risk of depression; it only shows an association.

“Future studies are now needed to confirm these results and to determine the best nutritional components of the DASH diet to prevent depression later in life and to best help people keep their brains healthy,” said Cherian.

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Big Volume with Imported Mexican Mangoes, as Well as California Grapes are Expected

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A5Mangoes from Mexico, as well as grapes from California are expected to provide excellent volume shipments this year.

Imported Mexican mangoes by U.S. importers got off to an early season start this year and is expected to follow the normal volume increases associated with spring.

Between 3 and 4 million boxes of Mexican mangoes have been crossing the border during April.

Another season of record-breaking volume with peak supplies from southern Mexico that started this month is expected to continue into mid-May as the harvest shifts to more northern regions, such as Nayarit and Sinaloa, from mid-June through August.

Importers such as Ciruli Bros, LLC of Rio Rico, AZ and Jade Produce LLC of Mission, TX  have been experiencing excellent volume mango shipments to U.S. markets.

Imported Mexican mango shipments from late March to the week of May 14 should be 16 percent higher than last year, with 49 million boxes in 2018 compared to 42 million boxes a year ago.

Besides Mexico, there also are imported mangoes from Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Haiti during the spring.  The Peruvian season finished in early April, and the Costa Rican season end the last half of April.

The Mexican season started in January and runs until October. The Nicaraguan season got underway in mid-March and ran until the last week of April.  The Guatemalan season was launched in March and should run through the end of May. The Haitian season started the third week of April and will run until September.

California Grapes

Since the 2012 California grape shipments have exceeded 100 million boxes each season and 2018 is expected to be no different.  In fact, 100 million – plus boxes is almost taken for granted these days.

California grape shipments totaled 109.1 million boxes during the 2017 season, which runs from May through January.  In 2016, the industry shipped 110 million boxed of table grapes.

California typically begins with grapes from the Coachella Valley in early May, before transitioning to the Arvin area of Bakersfield in early June, with the remainder of the season involving much of the San Joaquin Valley.



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Grimmway Farms’ Georgia Facility Has a Grand Opening

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A2By Grimmway Farms

SPARKS, GA — The grand opening of the Grimmway Farms’ new Southeast Regional Packing Facility and Warehouse in Sparks, Georgia was held recently. 

Grimmway Farms, the largest grower, producer, and shipper of carrots in the world, is opening the new facility to better serve the company’s East Coast customers. The new packing and warehouse center will bring with it both permanent and seasonal jobs to the region. 

“We are proud to welcome Grimmway Farms to Georgia,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. “With further processing of raw agricultural products historically lacking in the Southeast, Georgia is honored to be the home of this unique facility which has the potential to have significant impacts on our rural and agricultural economies in both the state of Georgia and entire Southeast.” 

The new facility also will bring positive economic impact. Grimmway Farms made approximately $5 million in capital investment to bring the new Georgia facility online and expects its Southeast operating budget to be more than $2.5 million. Additionally, the company will bring four permanent, full-time jobs and 50 seasonal jobs to Cook County. 

“At Grimmway Farms, we are always looking for fertile regions to grow carrots and further develop our year-round program,” said Jeff Huckaby, company president and CEO. “We found Cook County to be a great location to expand our operations. We are committed to providing customers with unparalleled service and this new packing facility in Sparks will allow us to load six days a week from February to May, ensuring timely delivery to our regional customers.“ 

The new plant has already begun shipping Grimmway Farms’ popular cello and jumbo carrots, packed under the Grimmway Farms, Bunny-Luv, and Premier labels. 

About Grimmway Farms

Family-owned and headquartered in Bakersfield, California, Grimmway Farms traces its roots to a produce stand opened by the Grimm brothers in the early 1960s. Grimmway is a global produce leader and the world’s largest producer of carrots. Grimmway supplies more than 65 organic, USAgrown crops year-round. Brands include Cal-Organic Farms and Bunny-Luv.

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