Following early shipments the past couple of years, Arkansas tomato loadings are expected to be more normal time-wise with light volume starting around June 10. Primary production is centered in south-central Arkansas around small towns such as Hermitage. Shipments should continue until about July 20th.
We’ll soon be entering the time of year when the bottom will drop out on Florida produce shipments as overall volume plummets. An exception is with Florida avocados.
South Florida had 7,500 acres in the 2012-13 season, shipping 1.16 million bushels. This was higher than the 819,594 bushel average growers shipped on an annual basis between 2006 and 2010.
Very light avocado shipments have started, but good volume will not hit until about July 1st. Peak shipments should take place in July through September.
It is the tail end of the Florida shipping season for citrus, but there may be a little more product for hauling than originally predicted. The updated estimate shows an increase in grapefruit and a small decline in tangerines, with orange volume remaining the same.
The grapefruit forecast has been increased by 1.3 million equivalent cartons in May from its April estimate.
Colored grapefruit production increased 500,000 cartons while white grapefruit jumped 800,000 cartons, according to the USDA. About 95% of the state’s grapefruit has been shipped. The tangerines forecast has been dropped by 100,000 boxes to 3.4 million boxes. About 97% of the state’s honey tangerines has been shipped.
As for oranges, volume remains at 138 million cartons, with the late season valencias volume staying at 71 million cartons. The majority of the Florida’s oranges are processed. As for the fresh market, about 70% of navels, half of the grapefruit and two-thirds of the tangerines are for fresh.
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California continues to work its way through the peak summer shipping season as much of the middle part of the country stays in the weather’s frying pan. While this may not be good for crops and livestock in the Mid-west, it is contributing to strong, steady shipments off of the West Coast.
For example, tomato shipments from USA areas such as Arkansas, Tennessee and South Carolina have been hit hard by the heat wave. This is resulting in more demand and better California loadings, whether it is tomatoes from the San Joaquin Valley, Ventura County, San Diego County, or even from Mexico’s Baja California.
Meanwhile, California should be shipping 4 to 5 million trays of strawberries weekly right on through August — mostly from the Watsonville District. During September, loading are still expected to remain strong — in the 3.5 to 4 million-tray range. While quality of strawberries has been a little up and down this year, some observers are predicing the berries will be much better the latter part of the season. That would be great not only for strawberry lovers, but for the guys and gals hauling them. Better quality should mean fewer claims or rejected loads.
There also remains mostly steady shipments of Salinas Valley vegetables, plus fruits and vegetables from throughout much of the San Joaquin Valley.
Salinas Valley produce grossing – about $7500 to New York City.
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This is the most fun time of the year buy fresh produce, unless of course you are growing your own. Home grown tomatoes can’t be beat. Eat ’em like apples!
Here in Oklahoma for only a few weeks, we savor our Porter peaches, grown around the small town of Porter, OK on the Arkansas-Oklahoma state line. Nothing compares! Wish I could say the same for peaches coming from both coasts. Their quality has been all over the board this summer. Some has been juicy and sweet, while others have been dry and tastless.
The same goes for strawberries, although they have been disappointing more often than not.
The pleasant surprises for me in the produce departments this summer has been the seedless watermelons, and the bing cherries – both from California and Washington state. The melons and cherries have been reasonably priced and the quality has been quite good. Watermelons are now coming out of areas such as the bootheel of Missouri as well as Illinois and Indiana.
Kiwifruit has been a great buy for months. I pick it up regularly at three for a dollar. It hasn’t mattered whether it has been from California, Mexico, Chile, etc. It has all been good….Another excellent buy are avocados! I have had them from both California and Mexico recently. They are great in salads. I also love to spread them on crackers and have with a glass of red wine.
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During some summers when produce shipments are in peak volume, so much product needs to be moved, and the demand for refrigerated equipment is so great, that already high rates then go through roof. It certainly has not happened this summer, and if anything, produce rates declined leading up to the Fourth of July holiday. The Fourth, being on a Wednesday, is felt by some to lessening the impact on rates.
Rates from major some shipping areas, for example in California, dropped 5 to 10 percent and more from the San Joaquin Valley, Salinas Valley, and Santa Maria.
A number of factors apparently resulted in the lower, although still healthy produce rates. For example, stone fruit shipments out of the San Joaquin Valley are down this year, freeing up some equipment. Other areas are shipping a lot less produce than normal such as Michigan (with fruit) and many Southeastern (watermelons, bluesberries and vegetables) states and in the South (Texas watermelons and melons in loutheastern states).
Still, the heaviest produce volume, on a national basis, usually occurs between May and August – and that still holds true this year.
In California, table grape shipments are winding down in the Coachella Valley, but the big volume is yet to come – from the San Joaquin Valley. Grapes have started from the Arvin (Bakersfield) district….The Salinas Valley remains heavy with vegetables shipments.
Southeastern Arkansas is in peak loadings with tomatoes.
Kentucky and Tennessee are now shipping tomatoes, zucchi, strawberries and peppers. Most shipments are on a regional basis.
Although we usually don’t think too much about ports and imported produce this time of year, various ports around the U.S. are receiving summer citrus. for example, there are arrivals of navel oranges from Peru. There is various types of citrus arriving from South Africa, Argentina, and Uruguay.
San Joaquin Valley fruit and vegetables – grossing about $7,500 to New York City.
South Texas watermelons – $3000 to Chicago.
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Normally we would see a bump in rates for hauling produce as the Fourth of July holiday approaches – when Independence Day falls on any day but Wednesday. This is not to say there will not be a increase in produce rates, but some observers are saying it may not be as high, or may not even occur this year for the holiday. Regardless, strong demand for refrigerated equipment will continue before and after the Fourth, and rates are expected to remain healthy in the coming weeks.
In Southeastern Arkansas, peak tomato shipments are continuing. While it has been an excellent growing season, triple digit temperatures have moved in. If the extreme heat continues the mid July conclusion to tomato shipments may happen even before that.
In Virginia, some are not aware the state ranks fourth nationally in tomato shipments, and 6th nationally in potato, apple and snap bean volume.
Moving to the Northwest, Washington state cherry shipments are in heavy volume. Loadings should continue until September and the state is on a course for record shipments.
In California, rates have had only minor fluctuations since early June. The Salinas Valley has lighter than usual volume with broccoli and cauliflower, plus lettuce shipments have been hampered as East Coast receivers took advantage of coastal shipping areas such as New Jersey, which started weeks earlier than normal. This put Eastern lettuce shipments on a collision coarse with West Coast lettuce shipments. Eastern receivers could save $7 to $8 per carton on lettuce, just on shipping costs, when they purchased eastern lettuce as opposed to that product from California.
Salinas Valley vegetables – grossing about $8500 to New York City
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Looking ahead in Washington state, unless weather changes everything, record cherry shipments are being predicted. Coming out the Yakima and Wenachee valleys, cherry shipments kick off the second week of June and will continue into mid July. Meanwhile, if you’re in the region, steady shipments of late season apples and pears continue.
In Nogales, AZ, the U.S. Custom and Border Protection has expanded lanes for trucks importing Mexican produce to eight lanes. Mexican grapes are now crossing the border and an estimated 8 to 9 million cartons are expected to be shipped to points throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Looking down the road a bit, vine ripe tomatoes out of Southeastern Arkansas could start shipping one to two weeks early this year. Light volume is expected by late May, with good volume coming within a week or so. Shipments are expected to continue into mid-July.
Blueberry loads are now available from Southern Georgia, joining other items ranging from greens to squash, cucumbers and peppers. Southern Georgia’s Vidalia onions are now in peak movement to markets, particularly in the eastern half of the country.
In California, grapes and melons are coming out the desert, while Southern California continues to ship berries, avocados, citrus and some veggies. Look for building volume on vegetables from the Salinas Valley….May should be an interest month as we monitor building produce volume, availablilty of refrigerated equipment, and its effect on freight rates…..As always, truckers’ abilities to find westbound freight to pick up fruits and vegetables in California and the Northwest will be a challenge.
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