It is still a month away, but Northwest potato shipments are expected to be good this season, following last year when the growing season was plagued by adverse weather.
Earlier this year when weather delayed plantings nearly a month, Mother Nature changed her tune and now the season looks to be pretty much on schedule starting during the first half of September.
Although Washington state acreage is up this season, it is due mostly for processing potatoes.
Skagit Valley’s Best Produce of Mount Vernon, WA completed its 20th shipping season in early May. It now has all of its red, yellow, white and purple potatoes in the ground, and the crop is progressing nicely.
Norm Nelson Inc. of Mount Vernon finished its plantings in early June and should start potato shipments in mid September with a bumper crop.
Bouchey Potato of Harrah, WA started harvesting conventional potatoes in July, plus will be shipping organic reds, yellows, russets and fingerlings this season.
Oregon Potato Shipments
Oregon’s upcoming season appears to be following a similar pattern.
Botsford & Goodfellow Inc. of Clackamas, Ore. reports a similar weather pattern experienced by the Washington potato industry, with crops progressing in a similar manner. The company, which is a shipper and broker of potatoes, is just starting its new season.
Riverside Potato of Klamath falls, Ore. reports it is about two to three weeks late this year, overall. It ships reds, yellows and russets.
A 60,000 square-foot packing facility has been opened by Apple Acres LLC of Lafayette, NY just in time for the new apple crop. Harvesting started in July.
The building, spanning two football fields, features a packinghouse line with a straight path configuration that minimizes fruit handling, according to a news release. It is certified under Global Food Safety Standards. The facility has Compac, Van Doren Inc. and Burg sorting and packing equipment.
The company recently expanded acreage, and apple varieties include Rubyfrost, SnapDragon, Macintosh and Empire. The company also packs for other New York apple growers.
U.S. apple shipments are expected to total over 267 million 42-pound carton equivalents, a 9 percent increase from the 244 million boxes loaded during the previous season.
Washington had a smaller crop during the 2018 season than in 2017 – an estimated 117 million 40-pound boxes compared to 133 million boxes. This season increased shipments are expected.
Red delicious, gala, golden delicious, granny smith, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp and fuji are the top apple varieties, with the Cosmic Crisp being shipped in December for the first time.
Michigan apple shipments will get underway on normal schedule around mid- to late August, depending on variety. A good crop is seen. Last year’s volume was 25 million 42-pound box equivalents. The average crop size is about 25.2 million boxes.
Michigan grows many varieties, including consumer favorites like Honeycrisp, gala and fuji. The state also produces a number of popular club varieties, Smith said.
New York apple shipments for the season are estimated to be around 31 million bushels. Early variety loadings get underway in mid- to late August.
New York will be shipping SweeTango and favorites like Honeycrisp, gala, red delicious, mcintosh, empire, cortland and more.
California apple shipments dipped last year because of bad weather, but should reach 1.5 million to 2 million 40-pound box equivalents, compared to 1.1 million boxes for the previous year.
Although the state had a rainy winter and spring, the apple loadings have just got underway with galas, as usual, followed by granny smith in August, fuji in September, Pink Lady in October and braeburn and other varieties after that.
California growers do not ship out of storage.
Some apples you haul this fall may be a part of American history, because they will be the first ones in the U.S. picked by a robot instead of human hands.
Abundant Robotics of Menlo Park, CA, a maker of apple harvesting machines, will partake in Washington state’s next harvest.
Abundant’s picker has been described as having something in common with a really smart Hoover vacuum than a human hand. The robot moves down rows of orchards and uses artificial intelligence with a dash of LIDAR to search for ripe apples. Once spotted, a robotic arm with a vacuum gently sucks the apples from the tree into a bin.
The achievement is a combination of advances in machine learning and robotics, as well as how apple orchards have evolved over the decades. Now apples are grown on trellises similar to tomatoes or cucumbers. Modern apple trees are also smaller, derived from dwarf varietals yielding more per acre and produce fruit more quickly after being planted.
These horticultural leaps have allowed farmers to double their apple yields. They’ve also made the job of picking easier for humans and, now, for robots.
Orchards are now sufficiently uniform and predictable for machines to reliably pick fruit, and canopies are narrow enough for sunlight, the human eye and vision systems to penetrate.
The debut in American follows a rollout in New Zealand, where Abundant started harvesting earlier this year. Abundant has raised $12 million with backing from GV, formerly Google Ventures, among others. The startup formed out of the robotics division at SRI International, a research lab in California.
Abundant’s main competition is Fresh Fruit Robotics, an Israeli startup that’s developing a picker using a claw-like appendage. Both companies have received funding from the Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission.
That labor shortage has been accompanied by higher wages. In Washington state, the minimum wage is set to jump by $1.50 to $13.50 an hour next year, an increase that could amount to a quarter of a million dollars for a grower that manages 250 acres. The typical American farm worker makes $11.84 per hour.
Washington state accounts for nearly two-thirds of all apples shipped in the U.S. and robots are seen as playing a vital role in harvesting. American ranks second globally in apple production behind China.
Agricultural robot shipments are predicted to increase from the current 60,000 units to more than 727,000 in 2025.
By Fruit World Co.
Reedley, CA – Fruit World Co. anticipates an increased shipments of their organic Thomcord grapes for the upcoming 2019 season. A hybrid of the heirloom “grape jelly” Concord Grape and popular Thompson Seedless grape, Thomcords are known for being exceptionally flavorful and aromatic.
Fruit World expects to begin shipping their 2019 crop of Thomcord grapes in 20 x 1 lb clamshells and 10 x 2 lb brown paper totes the first week in August, and will continue packing and shipping from their Reedley vineyard through early October.
Once again in 2019, each pack of Fruit World Organic Thomcord Grapes will engage consumers by sharing the Fruit World story and inviting consumers to send a text message to the grower.
In 2018, CJ Buxman, co-founder of Fruit World, the largest California grower of organic Thomcord grapes, had a fun idea: “I love the flavor and aroma of our Thomcord grapes, and I wanted to really connect with the consumers’ eating experience,” he explained. “So, we placed cards in over 160,000 one-pound clamshells inviting consumers to connect via text message.” After receiving over 1,800 text messages—and responding to every one of them—there was no doubt that consumers also love Thomcords.
These premium Thomcord organic grapes will once again be in high demand. “The Thomcord yield per acre is less than other varieties of table grapes, but its taste and aroma can’t be beat,” Buxman added. “They also are a perfect example of our obsession with growing the most flavorful fruit possible.”
And once again, Fruit World will be adding their ‘text-me’ cards to each package. “It’s a lot of work responding, but the messages are heart-warming, and our retailers tell us it really drove repeat sales,” said Fruit World co-founder Bianca Kaprielian. “We were blown away by the response last year. We expected people to love the flavor, but were surprised and humbled by the large number of people that took the time to thank us for growing them.”
In addition to Thomcords, in 2019 Fruit World will be shipping an additional ten organic grape varieties grown on the heritage vines of Pete Wolf, one of Fruit World’s grower partners. Pete Wolf was one of the first organic growers in California, and Fruit World proudly sells his fruit, some of the most flavorful, crunchiest grapes around. Fruit World is accepting orders now for these high demand, limited supply grape varieties. Call (559) 650-0334 for more information or visit fruitworldco.com to learn more about the Fruit World story.
Good volume berry shipments are expected from U.S. shippers the rest of the summer and a huge volume increase is in the forecast for imported Peruvian blueberries.
In early July, California strawberry shippers had moved over 105 million trays, compared to 121.4 million trays at the same time a year ago. Rain during the winter and spring followed by a heatwave the second week of June had California strawberry loadings running below last year’s numbers.
Besides strawberries there are other competing fruit shipments ranging from cherries, to stone fruit and melons.
Gourmet Tranding Co. of Los Angeles reports domestic blueberry shipments should remain strong for at least the next couple of months, continuing through September. However, domestic “blues” are expected to have some strong competition from Peruvian blueberry imports, which is seen increasing as much as 50 percent over a year ago. Those imports begin in August and continue through January and possibly into February.
The vast majority of domestic blueberry shipments during the summer are originating out of Michigan, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. All of these areas are reporting good crops.
Other Berry Shipments
Summertime means peak shipments for domestic raspberries and blackberries. A hot spell in California during June did not have as severe an impact on raspberries as it did on strawberries.
California raspberry shipments should continue into mid-November out of Watsonville. Razz loadings will then transition to Ventura County, before switching to Mexico for the winter.
California Giant Berry Farms of Watsonville will be shipping California raspberries until late September or early October before shifting to Mexico.
New York state produce shipments rank in the top 10 states and while summer loadings have been going on, the heaviest movement still lies ahead.
The USDA reports New York biggest fresh commodities by volume reveal apples, cabbage, cucumbers and fresh snap beans increased last year, while onions, sweet corn and potatoes dropped compared to the 2017 report:
New York shipped 823 truck load equivalents of apples and exported 150 truck loads in 2018, up from 7,35 truck loads and 140 truck loads respectively, in 2017.
Dry onions were at 440 truck loads in 2018, down from 404 truck loads in 2017.
Cabbage was at 437 truck loads in 2018, up from 405 truck loads in 2017.
Sweet corn shipments reached 108 truck loads in 2018, down from 118 truck loads in 2017.
Cucumbers were at 713 truck loads in 2018, up from 660 truck loads in 2017.
Potato shipments 673 truck loads in 2018, down from 825 truck loads in 2017.
Fresh snap bean shipments were at 50 truck loads in 2018, up from 37 truck loads in 2017.
Minkus Family Farms in New Hampton will start shipping yellow and red onions from it 1,500 acres of onions and cover crops in Orange County in August. The company expects to ship about 200 truck loads of onions this season.
New York’s sweet corn loadings may be down a little this year due to adverse weather during the planting season. The sweet corn season typically runs from July 20 to Oct. 10, but this year, the harvest is expected to be 2 to 3 weeks late.
Cabbage planting started about 2½ to 3 weeks late as well, and pumpkins and other squash got in the ground, but their growth is stunted due to cool weather, so they may not be ready until October.
Bayonne, NJ – The consumers have spoken. Watermelon, one of today’s fastest-trending fruits, has enjoyed triple-digit growth in casual and fine dining. Demand for the refreshing summer staple is on the rise even in the fall and winter months. It’s a must for any mixologist and you’ll find it on one in 10 restaurant menus.
Most of all, people just love watermelon – and they know it’s good for them.
KAYCO (www.kayco.com) is taking the beverage industry by storm with Wonder Melon™, the latest thirst-quencher for those seeking clean, uniquely flavorful new refreshment options. Wonder Melon™ is made from 100% organic cold-pressed juice with no added sugar, artificial ingredients, or artificial colorings.
This healthy game-changer comes in two exciting varieties. Watermelon Cucumber Basil is a delightfully cool concoction of real watermelon juice, lemon juice, apple juice, cucumber juice, and basil, with only 80 calories per 8.45 oz. bottle. Watermelon Lemon Cayenne wakes up the taste buds with real watermelon juice, lemon juice, apple juice, and a dash of cayenne at just 100 calories per 8.45 oz. bottle.
“Wonder Melon™ perfectly captures what consumers are looking for right now,” says Kim Cassar, Kayco’s EVP Sales & Marketing – Beyond Division. “It’s not only healthful and out of the ordinary, but also undeniably trendy and irresistibly delicious. We’re confident that Wonder Melon™ will make a huge splash this summer.”
Both varieties are non-GMO verified, certified Fair Trade, USDA organic, and certified OU kosher (parve). Packaged 6 bottles per case ($3.99/bottle MSRP), Wonder Melon™ is available in the refrigerator section at Shop-Rite, Fairway, Best Market, independent grocers and Amazon.
Kayco is supporting the Wonder Melon™ brand in New York City with an aggressive outreach campaign at the height of cold beverage season. Look for the following promotions:
· Segments on Time Warner Cable’s A Taste of New York, targeting affluent, influential, and educated New Yorkers. This spot will also be featured on A Taste of New York’s web site, YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest site and Instagram.Sneak Peak – https://vimeo.com/tasteofny/download/340913533/0963707776
· Eye-catching Wonder Melon™ Vans will cruise the steamy summer streets with refreshing samples for thirsty Manhattanites starting July 12 and running all summer. Check Wonder Melon’s™ social media for dates and locations.
· Giant Wonder Melon™ trucks will roll out the product – literally – to provide additional exposure.
· In-store support including tastings and point-of-purchase materials.
According to Menu Trends research by the Watermelon Board:
· All regions across the U.S. are experiencing increased use of watermelon.
· Watermelon is featured in one of 10 menus – up by 27 percent in the last four years.
· Watermelon is one of the fastest fruit flavors in non-alcoholic beverages, with 29 percent four-year growth.
· 82 percent of consumers surveys said they liked the taste of watermelon.
Wonderful Watermelon Facts
Watermelon’s 92 percent water content is excellent for hydration. It contains a bounty of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals associated with the following:
· Digestive health
· Eye, skin, and hair health
· Sun protection
· Diabetes protection
· Heart and blood vessel health
· Weight loss
· Combating asthma
· Weight loss
· Nerve function
· Reduction of inflammation
Wonder Melon™ Recipes:
2 oz cucumber mint vodka
1/2 oz lemon juice
.25 oz simple syrup
2 oz Wonder Melon™ with Juice, Watermelon, Cucumber and Basil
Splash cucumber juice
2 oz pineapple infused vodka
1.5 oz Wonder Melon™ with Juice, Watermelon, lemon, and cayenne
Splash simple syrup
.5 oz pineapple juice
.5 oz peach schnapps
2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Watermelon juice
1/4 oz. Simple syrup
1 oz. Lemon juice
1 oz. Wonder Melon™ with Juice, Watermelon, Cucumber and Basil
Wonder Melon Rita
2 oz. Tequila
1 1/2 Wonder Melon™ with Juice, Watermelon, lemon, and cayenne
1 oz. Lime juice
1 Packet of sugar
Top with water, blueberries and mint leaves
Kayco is one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of kosher foods. Its expanded Kayco Beyond Division sources and distributes new products to the general market beyond kosher, to meet the demands of consumers looking for optional products that are healthful, convenient and/or for restricted diets and lifestyles. These brands include Dorot, Absolutely Gluten Free, Beetology, Mighty Sesame, Tuscanini Foods, Wissotzky Tea Co. and new Wonder Melon™. They are headquartered in Bayonne, NJ. (www.KAYCO.com).