Archive For The “Trucking Reports” Category

Stemilt is Now Shipping New Season Pears from Washington State

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By Stemilt Growers

The dog days of summer are fading in the distance, and that signals the start of Stemilt’s new pear crop and the arrival of summer varieties.

The company is in full harvest mode on its Rushing Rivers® conventional and organic Bartlett and Starkrimson pears and packing fruit fresh to order now to spur the back-to-school rush and first promotions of the season at retail.

Stemilt’s summer and winter pear varieties are grown in the Wenatchee and Entiat River Valleys, where growing conditions are perfect for pears. Great airflow, a mountain climate that protects pears, and volcanic soils all combine to make these locales a pear farmer’s dream come true.

According to Stemilt marketing director Brianna Shales, early indicators point to a high-quality pear crop with a range of sizes for promotion and World Famous flavors.

“It’s hard to believe we are already at that intersection between the summer and fall seasons for produce, but that’s what the start of pear harvest always signals for me,” said Shales. “Starkrimson and Bartlett pears are the first to come off the tree for Stemilt and are ready to promote at retail during the transition to fall sets and fall flavors.”

Starkrimson is trending towards normal fruit size and opportunities to promote bulk and bags at retail. Stemilt has two pouch bag offerings for this bright red fruit, including the always-popular back-to-school pack Lil Snappers®. The 3lb. pouch bag of kid-size fruit is a great feature alongside first of the season bulk ads that feature red and green pears. Stemilt also has a larger 5lb. pouch bag pack in the Rushing Rivers® pear brand for its summer varieties.

“Starkrimson is a fantastic eating red pear and available for the early part of the pear season,” said Shales. “This year’s fruit is super juicy with high sugars and true dessert eating quality.”

Bartlett is the category leader at the front half of the pear season, and Stemilt is actively harvesting and packing both conventional and organic fruits now.

“Organic pears are a challenge to grow, but we’re a believer and long-time leader in them,” said Shales. “This year, we have increased volume on organic Bartlett as new acreage has come into organic production. Starting the season off with an organic Bartlett feature is a great way to build organic and pear sales.”
On the conventional Bartlett side, Stemilt will have a similar size crop as last year and is harvesting fruit to help with season extension into February. Stemilt will have good supplies of bulk and bag sizes, but fewer jumbo-sized Bartletts this year.

In September, Stemilt started harvesting winter pear varieties, including Bosc and Concorde. D’Anjou pears harvest next and start shipping in October following a cold treatment and ripening process that ensures ready-to-eat fruit.

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California Grape Shippers Look to Strong Finish; But Some Quality Issues May Exist

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Good, consistent shipments of California table grapes are predicted well into December, although there are some concerns quality issues may arise.

While Pandol Bros. Inc. of Delano, CA doesn’t see any big gaps in supply for the rest of the California grape season, there is some angst regarding labor shortages at both the grower and retail level, which could have some negative consequences on movement.

At the farm level, farmers with too much of one variety maturing at the same time could be hard-pressed to pick the fruit in top condition if they don’t have sufficient labor.

From the retail end, Pandol reports some retail stores have a shortage of labor at the produce department level. If retailers don’t rotate grapes in the right way, then repeat purchases could suffer.

A retail clerk may stock the grape display in the morning, but if that display isn’t stocked again before the rush house, impulse purchases may be at risk.

Still, Pandol sees the outlook for strong California grape shipments with only slight variations from projected volume likely.

Columbine Vineyards, Delano, CA reports California grapes got off to a great early season start, but in mid season there were too many green grapes based on an accelerated harvest due to weather, and at the same time there were not enough reds. 

Looking ahead, Columbine Vineyards sees good volume with the red seedless varieties, and continued good volume with green grapes.

While the crop has good volume, the company is concerned about export logistics, materials cost, labor costs and water scarcity.

Exports may be down this year because of troublesome logistics at ports.

About 30% of California grapes typically go to export markets, and strong demand for air and vessel capacity has made exports more difficult.

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California Giant’s Strong Peruvian Blueberry Season Makes for Supplies Year-Round

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By California Giant Berry Farms

WATSONVILLE, CA – After a bountiful domestic season, California Giant Berry Farms is anticipating a high-quality, on-time start to the import season thanks to its Peruvian-grown blueberries.

This strong harvest in Peru – coupled with a 100% increase in volume – means retailers will be able to market fresh blueberries from California Giant Berry Farms branded year-round.

The Peruvian harvest begins this month on time “and in some cases a bit earlier,” Nadar Musleh, Executive Director of International Business Development, California Giant Berry Farms, explained. “We project U.S. arrivals to begin in early September. Production will continue through December in Peru, then we’ll continue with production in Chile through March – meaning retailers will be able to offer their shoppers a consistent supply of our high-quality California Giant blueberries year-round.”

“Blueberries in general are having a very good season in Peru with a 25-30% increase over last year’s volumes, and California Giant in particular is outpacing this production increase by doubling our volume over last year,” said Musleh.

Through expanded acreage and maturing fields at its three state-of-the-art production facilities in Peru, California Giant will have more varieties to offer customers this year – including Ventura, Biloxi, Kestrel and Bianca – which allows for supplies to reach even more areas in the U.S.

In addition, by increasing both organic and conventional production, “we also will be able to offer organic product to U.S. customers every week this fall and winter without interruption,” Musleh added.

California Giant Berry Farms started small. Cousins Pat Riordan and Bill Moncovich teamed up with best friend Frank Saveria to sell strawberries from a simple trailer in Watsonville, CA. Nearly 40 years later, California Giant has grown into a global family of people passionate about delivering the best strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in the most sustainable way. Quality, consistency and community inspire the mission and values of: Community, Quality, Philanthropy, Fairness, and Mutual Respect is what continues to sustain us. Because the bigger the smile, the better.


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Massachusetts Expects to Ship an Average Crop of Cranberries This Season

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By Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association

Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association (CCCGA) leadership attended a recent Cranberry Marketing Committee (CMC) meeting where the committee announced its 2021 cranberry crop forecast for the United States.

Massachusetts is the founder of cranberry cultivation, initiated on Cape Cod in 1816, and currently stands as the second-largest cranberry growing region in the country. The Commonwealth produces approximately 23% of the annual crop in the United States. 

For Massachusetts, CMC is forecasting a crop of 1.9 million barrels (each barrel equals 100 pounds), up 5% from the Commonwealth’s 2020 harvest. Overall, CMC is anticipating the national crop to yield about 8.1 million barrels, also an increase of 5% over last season.

“Similar to last year, our bogs are tracking to deliver a solid crop yield for Massachusetts growers, what I would consider an average crop for our region based on past performance”, shared CCCGA Executive Director Brian Wick.

For more information about Massachusetts cranberries and their health benefits, visit Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association online at or follow the Association on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


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Applewood Fresh Growers Gearing Up for Michigan Apple Shipments

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By Applewood Fresh Growers

Applewood Fresh®, a fourth-generation grower, packer/shipper and marketer of Michigan-grown apples, has started shipping the Rave® and SweeTango® varieties.

Rave® apples are part Honeycrisp and part MonArk. They have that infamous Honeycrisp bite, but harvest a few weeks earlier than other apple varieties. MN55 cultivar apples were bred naturally through traditional cross-pollination methods by David Bedford at the University of Minnesota’s apple breeding program.

The company has grown the juicy, early season Honeycrisp-meets-MonArk cross for the past four years. Availability is expected to grow exponentially in 2021 and beyond. Rave® is only available for a limited time each year. Look for Rave® shipments from Mid-August through October, said Scott Swindeman, Managing Owner of Applewood Fresh.

Applewood Fresh expects a similar production to last year for SweeTango®. As the lead marketer in the Midwest for the variety that, also, comes from the University of Minnesota breeding program, Applewood Fresh promotes the marriage of the Honeycrisp and Zestar! varieties in SweeTango for its standout flavor and texture. SweeTango started shipping from Michigan in early September.

Applewood Fresh offers bulk packaging in Standard and Euro Tray pack Cartons, as well as several packaged options; 2 and 3 lb. pouch, 3 lb. poly bags and tote bags to fit the new trend of increased packaged apple sales. “Retailers should promote packaged fruit and merchandise in lead-off positions in their produce departments to drive sales. Customers are looking for quick grab and go solutions as they navigate the store to expedite their shopping trip,” said Brian Coates, VP of Sales and Business Development.

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Eagle Eye Produce is Shipping New Crop of Potatoes

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Grower/shipper Eagle Eye Produce of Idaho Falls, ID began loading the new crop russet, red, and yellow potatoes from their packing facilities in Idaho the second week of August.

“We anticipate a good harvest this year with excellent product available to go to market with, although this growing season has seen some challenges,” said Coleman Oswald, director of sales at Eagle Eye Produce. “We experienced higher than normal temperatures this summer with very little precipitation, which may lead to lower than anticipated yields. With the reduced yields, we are anticipating strong and active markets this season, which we are currently seeing take shape as harvest begins.”

Eagle Eye Produce’s year-round potato programs are fully integrated. This industry-leading structure allows for one-stop loading of russet, red, yellow, and value- add products from their facilities in Idaho.

Eagle Eye Produce is headquartered in the heart of Idaho potato country, but it grows much more than potatoes. Annually cultivating more than 30,000 acres of fresh produce from Idaho to Mexico, and across most of the Western United States with a national sales and marketing team to support their diverse year-round commodity programs and proven brands. Eagle Eye Produce owns and operates state-of-the-art warehouses and packing facilities in Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and California, and is dedicated to innovation, offering a full line of ready to cook simple meal solutions.

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A Glimpse at Various Western Produce Shipping Areas

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Looking at late summer produce shipments in the western half of the country, volume is lighter, especially with potatoes as the shift is gradually underway from the old crop to the new. California continues to be your best bet for produce loads in general, although we’ll touch on several other states.


The best loading opportunities are in the Salinas Valley. Heaviest volume is with Iceberg and romaine lettuce combing for about 1,875 truckloads weekly. Strawberries account for about 785 truckloads per week.

Next best bet is in the San Joaquin Valley. Westside district is shipping about 750 truckloads of cantaloupe.

Grapes also are being loaded in the Valley, with most of the volume in the southern part from the Kern District, averaging over 1,900 truckloads weekly.

Christopher Ranch of Gilroy, CA is among the nation’s largest garlic growers, and ships mostly garlic. This season it looks to load over 100 million pounds of conventional and organic garlic, and ships coast-to-coast. The company has fresh, peeled, organic, roasted, crushed and pickled garlic.

San Joaquin Valley vegetables and strawberries – grossing about $8700 to Chicago.

Colorado Potato Shipments

No much is happening yet in the San Luis Valley of Colorado as shippers work to get rid of the old potato crop, with new ones still in very light volume. Shipments for 2021-22 are expected to be average, if not down a little.

Distributor Epic Produce Sales of Phoenix, AZ reports the new crop is shaping up well, and works with several San Luis Valley potato growers. While a significant portion of its volume is exported to Mexico, the company also sells heavy to retailers.


On the back end of cherry shipments in Washington, and the Vancouver area clobbered by bad weather this season, cherries aren’t doing much now. Otherwise, Yakima Valley apples are moving into its new season and are now averaging about 1,775 truckload equivalents per week.

Yakima Valley apples – grossing about $9,000 to New York City.


Currently volume is split pretty even between the old and new potato crops heading towards fall. Only about 1,250 truckload equivalents are currently being shipped by truck and rail.


The new crop of potatoes from the Big Lake area and Central Minnesota is underway. About 400 truckloads of spuds are being shipped weekly, with volume on the rise. A lot of the volume is shipped by Red River Valley potato grower/shippers such Nokota Packers in Buxton, ND and Associated Potato Growers in Grand Forks.

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Strong Demand Expected for Pumpkins Loadings This Fall

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Great growing conditions have Grower/shippers optimistic about pumping shipments for the fall.

Van Groningen & Sonks of Manteca, CA not last season demand was driven by people staying home, resulting in folks decorating their homes more and celebrating with their familiess.

While this may not be the situation this year, at least as much, the company doesn’t anticipate demand falling off. This year’s expectations are based on the trends the operation has seen for other holidays and events. Since people were unable to celebrate Halloween traditionally last year, there is likely pent-up demand to celebrate this year.

Bay Baby Produce of Mount Vernon, WA also expects strong demand as a result of more social gatherings. The different colors and textures available make pumpkins ideal for decorating not only for holidays but throughout the fall.

The weather has been hotter and drier than usual in their area, the crop looks good. A bigger variable for the company is with the supply chain. 

Obtaining items such as cardboard and pallets, finding labor, and experiencing a diminished capacity in trucks and drivers has resulted in packing and shipping product. The pumpkin season is a short and intense season. This consolidated supply and drastic increase in production will likely be difficult for an already stressed supply chain to handle.

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Washington Apple Shipments Could be Similar to 2020 Despite Heat Wave

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The Washington state fresh apple crop is expected to be of a similar size to last season despite a severe heat wave earlier this summer, according to the Washington State Tree Fruit Association’s (WSTFA) 2021 forecast.

The 2021 forecast is for a crop of just under 125 million standard forty-pound boxes of fresh apples. This would be a 2.3% increase from 2020’s 122 million box crop, but down 7.2% from the 2019 crop of 134.5 million boxes.

Apple harvest typically begins in August and continues into November, and as a result this forecast is still subject to several months of variable weather which can affect the final harvest total.

“The 2021 Washington state apple crop looks to be similar in size to last year’s crop. Growing seasons are never the same, and currently many WSTFA members are still evaluating the impact of this summer’s adverse and variable weather conditions,” said Jon DeVaney, WSTFA President.

“Members have made their best attempt to incorporate these factors, but with harvest just beginning and several months of unknown weather ahead, further reductions in the size of the forecasted crop are possible.”

For the third straight year, Gala will be the most numerous variety at 21%, Red Delicious is projected at 16%, followed by Honeycrisp and Granny Smith at 14%, and Fuji at 13% of total production. This year, Cosmic Crisp is forecast to come in at 3% of the total crop, a 114% increase from the 2020-21 crop, and Cripps Pink at 6%.

Organic apple production is forecast to be 12.3% of the total, or 15.36 million boxes. This is essentially unchanged from the 15.6 million boxes in the 2020 apple crop. Although it should be noted that typically not all organic production is ultimately packed and marketed as organic.

This forecast is based on a survey of WSTFA members, and represents a best estimate of the total volume of apples that will eventually be packed and sold on the fresh market (excluding product sent to processor).

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Normal Shipments of Wisconsin Potatoes are Predicted

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Wisconsin potato shipments got underway in the central part of the state a few days early in August for the 2021 crop.

Shippers are reporting acreage and volume will not change significantly from last season, and the crop outlook is generally favorable, though weather factors could influence the outcome of the crop through the end of harvest this fall.

The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association of Antigo WI expects acreage to stay flat with some growers making slight fluctuations between certain varieties and others shifting slightly between reds and yellows. 

Alsum Farms of Friesland, WI expect almost identical acreage compared to a year ago. Acreage of red potatoes was cut back a little, increased on yellow-flesh potatoes and was about steady for russets.

Yields may be average this year, limited by early season cooler weather and extreme heat in June.

Alsum Farms, began shipments in early August, a couple of days later than a typical harvest start because of the hot weather in early June.

Bushman’s of Rosholt, WI reports a good looking good crop. The company expects an average crop.

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