Posts Tagged “Chicago”

First Loads of Washington state Cherries are Shipped

By |

IMG_6043I was in Chicago early Friday (June 14) when the first two loads of cherries arrived at the Chicago International Produce Market (CIPM) from Washington state. Cherry shipments have gotten off to a slow start, but should really be picking up in the days ahead.

The truckers were paid a gross freight of $4,500 for the run originating out of the Yakima Valley.  The f.o.b. worth of the load of cherries was approximately $125,000!

There have been some concerns relating to weather factors causing cracks in Washington cherries this season. However, these loads of early variety Chelan cherries had decent quality.  The more popular Bing variety of cherries should start shipments the week of June 24th.

If you haul produce and plan on loading Washington cherries, continue to check what’s being put into the truck.  Just because this stone fruit had good quality, there’s not guarantee this cracking will not show up in future loads.

Volume on Washington cherries in increasing and should hit a peak around June 26 -28, just in time for Fourth of July deliveries.

Shipments should continue into August.

Washington also continues to ship late season apples and pears from both the Yakima and Wenachee valleys.  Although not as attractive an item, the state’s Columbia Basin is still loading potatoes.

Columbia Basin potatoes – grossing about $4100 to Chicago.

Yakima valley apples and pears – about $6500 to New York City.

Read more »

California’s Salinas Valley, Kern County are Providing Loads

By |

IMG_6576California is now shipping an astounding 7 million trays of strawberries per week, which should set another record for loadings by the time the season ends.  Most loadings are taking place from the Santa Maria area and the Watsonville district.

The Salinas Valley continues to ship a wide variety of vegetables.  Head lettuce loadings are providing the heaviest volume, averaging about 1,500 truckloads per week.  However, there’s lots of other items ranging from various types of lettuce, to cauliflower, broccoli, etc.

Kern County

This week most potato sheds should be hitting full production.   Shipments of fresh potatoes from the southern region of the San Joaquin Valley should continue into early July.

There has been a 10%-plus drop in acreage of reds, whites and yellow spuds.  More specifically:  whites are down 13%;  reds, as well as yellows are off 12%.  The nationally over produced (thanks primarily to Idaho)  russet acreage in Kern County is down a whopping 65 percent.

Russet acreage in Kern County has dropped to about 1,000 acres from a high of 12,000 to 14,000 acres about 20 years ago.

While Kern County shippers are predicting  enough transportation with trucks, rail, intermodal and Railex, they say it will be expensive.

Kern County potatoes and carrots – grossing about $5200 to Chicago.

Salinas Valley veggies – about $7300 to New York City.


Read more »

Produce Hauling from the Salinas Valley, San Joaquin Valley

By |

Between now and August produce truckers will have the upper hand when it comes to freight rates – assuming you don’t have contract rates (but that’s another story).

Not only are we nearing the peak shipping season from California, which accounts for about half of the nation’s fresh produce, but other areas, particularly in the upper mid-west and east are providing competition for trucks.

Caution Hauling Desert Items

Before I get into the Salinas and San Joaquin Valley shipments, use caution loading desert vegetables such as bell peppers and corn as temperatures well above 100 degrees have been occurring.  It’s been really hot in the Coachella and Imperial valleys, as well as Arizona’s Yuma district.  Little or no report of heat damage has yet been reported but keep your eyes peeled for scalding and other heat symptoms in the days ahead.  Even watermelons can suffer if prolonged heat occurs.

Salinas Valley

Dozens of different kinds of vegetables are being shipped from the Salinas area.  But the big volume items are various types of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower.  There also is decent volume with brussel sprouts and celery.  Nearby Castroville is the artichoke capital of the world, while nearby Watsonville is ground zero for strawberry shipments.

San Joaquin Valley

This report will focus primarily on summer from from the SJV.  We’ll soon cover the many vegetables coming into volume.

Stone fruit, led by peaches, plums and nectarines, are just getting underway from the southern part of the valley.

The consensus appear to be that around 40 to 43 million boxes of stone fruit will be shipped this year from the San Joaquin Valley, which would be pretty average when looking at the volume for the past five years.

California cherry shipments are building and hitting good volume just prior to the Memorial weekend (May 25-27).  However, winds damaged 40 to 50% of the early variety Rainier cherries around Bakersfield on May 5th.

There also was some wind damage to almond trees in the Bakersfield area.

Last year, California shipped a record 101.5 milion boxes of grapes.  The Coachella Valley, which is shipping now, accounts for 10 percent or less of this volume.  The rest comes from the San Joaquin Valley, starting with the Arvin District in late June.

Apple shipments, which took at 30 percent hit last year, are expected to return to normal this year.  Beginning in July, California apple shipments get underway, but this is minor (2 million boxes) compared to Washington state  (129 million boxes predicted).

Kern District

Located near Bakersfield, Kern County ships a lot carrots and potatoes, althouigh this time of the year you will get a better freight rate hauling more perishable items ranging from lettuce to stone fruit, grapes and berries.

Kern County potatoes shipments started about a week ago.  Due to so much over production of russet potatoes around the country, this variety has been reduced by up to 75 percent.  Russets have been replaced primarily with red, yellow and white potatoes.

When Kern County growers are not planting carrots or potatoes in their fields, they use bell peppers as a rotation crop.  Bell peppers loadings are just starting and building in volume, continuing until November.

Salinas vegetables – grossing about $5200 to Chicago.

California desert vegetables – about $7300 to New York City.


Read more »

Nogales Winter Produce Loads will be Increasing

By |

Entering the lightest season volume wise for produce loads, it’s not uncommon for multiple pick ups and drops to fill out the trailer.  Pick ups starting in southern California may extend to the California desert, Yuma and perhaps even Nogales.  Changes for the better are occuring at the Arizona, Mexico border that should improve produce crossings in the USA and reduce delays for loadings at the many Nogales warehouses.

The Mariposa port was built in the 1970s, designed to handled 400 trucks crossing into Arizona daily.  Over the years changes have increased the truck count to around 1600 to 1800 a day.  In the past an estimated 25 percent of the trucks crossing the border into Arizona were delayed because of gridlock on the Mariposa Road (State Route 189), which connects the port to I-19.  Numerous stop lights on the state route often contribute to the delays.

In 2009 a $220 million expansion of the port was started and is scheduled for completion in 2014.  This should increase traffic capabilities to 4,000 to 5,000 trucks a day crossing the border in Nogales.

Meanwhile, there is light volume of watermelon, honeydew, squash, bell peppers, tomatoes and other items crossing the border from Mexico, it will be another month of so before the volume really improves.

Nogales produce is grossing about $3400 to Chicago, about $5800 to New York.

Read more »

Eclipse Dist: Takes Pride in Arranging LTL Produce Loads

By |

Good brokers are known for sticking up for the men and women behind the wheel of the big rigs delivering perishable fresh fruits and vegetables.  That can mean rattling the cage of a shipper or receiver who are making a tough job even tougher for long haul truckers.


Darrell Miller, Mark Martin, Robin Bicksler, Brent Schmit and Tristan Schmit.


Brent Schmit is president of Eclipse Dist., Inc. located about an hour’s drive west of Chicago in Elburn, Il.  One of the most common complaints he hears from drivers relate to the attitudes of people.

For example, Brent points out a driver arrives at shipping point in California to make a pick up.  “The lady behind the desk tells the driver to hang on for a second.  She is on the phone talking to her girl friend or someone else and won’t give the driver the bill of lading,” Brent states.  “The driver is already loaded.  Then the driver gets the bill of lading and it states he was loaded out an hour earlier.”

Then upon arriving at destination late, the receiver looks at the bill of lading and says the driver left the loading dock at shipping point earlier than the driver claims to have left.  But in reality that is not true.

“A little more cooperation with the drivers would help,” laments Brent.  “If you miss an appointment out there at shipping point, they will push you off until the next day, or sometimes give you a later appointment (that day), if you are lucky.”

Brent adds if the trucker arrives at shipping at a certain time, then has to wait five hours, what is the shipper’s responsibility? he asks.  Additionally, if the receiver is claiming they needed the truck earlier, and if the truck had been loaded five hours earlier, the load would have been delivered when needed.

“I think the way the economy has been, it has affected business,  and over all it has been a slower year,” Brent states.  “I understand all of that, but they (shippers and receivers) put the pressure on everyone.  The drivers aren’t happy, because they are not making as much.  The customers aren’t happy because they are paying more for freight, and they aren’t selling as much.”

Eclipse, which arranges about 3,000 loads a year, handles a lot of less-than-truckload.

“There’s not a lot of people that want to handle the LTL,” Brent says.  Everybody wants the one pick up, one drop.  There are fewer headaches.  It takes a certan finess to get and LTL done.  Not only are you up all night with the driver, making sure he gets loaded, they you are trying to get deliveries arranged so the produce is taken off the truck.”

About 90 percent of Eclipse’s loads are with produce with the remainder being out bound loads from the Chicago area involving dry freight.  The truck brokerage has produce loads from all over the country delivered to Chicago area receivers.

Brent and his staff take pride in the job accomplished with the challenging LTL deliveries.  He notes Chicago is one of the largest distribution hubs in the USA.

“This is where we shop, where we eat, where we go to restaurants — everything.  It is an enjoyment for us because we brought all this produce in from California and elswhere,” Brent concludes.



Read more »

California Rates Remaining Strong After Recent Jump

By |

Since California rates shot upward on June 4th by $1000 dollars or more from California to the midwest and east coast, rates have pretty much maintained that level  (around $6000 to Chicago and about $9000 to the east coast).    Now the question is whether loads for the 4th of July holiday will take another jump.  Since the 4th falls on a Wednesday, there are differing opinions whether rates will go any higher, as opposed to if the holiday fell on,  say a Monday or a Friday, making for a long holiday weekend.

In California’s Westside District of the San Joaquin Valley, cantaloupe and honeydew shipments will be starting around Independence Day.  Normal shipments are expected, although there’s plenty of apprehension among some melon shippers over the ramifications of the cantaloupe listeria outbreak last year with Rocky Ford region cantaloupe in Colorado. That outbreak adversely affected cantaloupe shipments for other production areas as many consumers stopped buying melons.

In Southern California, record shipments of avocados continue.  The region is shipping about 30 million pounds of avocados weekly to points around the USA, with a total for the season expected to hit 415 million pounds!….California cherry loads  from the Lodi-Stockton area will be winding down within the next week or so, which will end with a record of around 23 million boxes, up 3 million boxes from the amount shipped a year ago.

Meanwhile, there’s heavy volume with vegetables coming out of the Salinas Valley, and increasing stone fruit shipments from the San Joaquin Valley.

San Joaquin Valley stone fruit – about $5500 to Chicago.

Salinas Valley vegetables/Watsonville strawberries – around $9200 to Boston, and can be a few hundred dollars higher or lower depending upon the day of the week, demand for trucks, etc.





Read more »

Produce Rates Skyrocket from California

By |

I arrived in Chicago yesterday (June 4)  and the talk both with people in trucking and in the produce industry was the rates had shot up $1,000 on loads from California to Chicago.  There sure was a lot of complaining from produce companies, but big smiles on the folks in transportation.  It should come as no surprise to anyone.  It happens around June 1st every year as produce spring shipments increase and refrigerated equipment comes into short supply, although trucks seemed to be available, if you were willing the pay the price.

The down side to the rising produce rates, is, as every year, the westbound dry freight rate are awful.  Dry freight from Chicago and the Midwest is grossing only $2400 to $2500 to the West Coast — and some of it is even cheaper.  That may pay for the number 2 diesel, but it’s not going to cover the cost of the driver, or the truck.

Another downside is be wary of  companies with which you may not be familiar.  Some receivers will look for any little thing to make a deduction from your load.  I’m talking about things as petty, for example, as the product in your trailer being one degree off the recommended pulp temperture.  That $1000 extra you thought you were making with the rising rates, isn’t going to look near as good when you are paid, if you face a deduction of $200, $300, $400 or more.

As of today, here’s what some loads are paying coming into Chicago.

From California to Chicago:

6 pick ups, five drops, grossing $7,000

5 pick ups, one drop, grossing $6400 (Think I’d take the next load instead, see the next one listed!)

Fresno, 1 pick up, 1 drop $6400

Nogales melons and grapes – $5000 to Chicago

West Texas (90 miles north of Laredo), potatoes – $2400 to $2500 to Chicago.

By Bill Martin

Special thanks to Eclipse Dist., Elburn, IL for the rate information.

Central Florida potatoes – $3000 to Chicago.

Read more »