Texas produce growers are currently harvesting and shipping melons, citrus and other crops to supermarkets mostly throughout the Eastern half of the country.
When the Lone Star State producers of fresh fruits and vegetable are not in season, Texas is the major route for fruits and vegetables from Mexico.
Many Texas produce operations also have relationships with the growers in Mexico.
For example, in 2016, two-thirds of all the fresh produce sold in Texas was grown in Mexico. Texas grows $900 million of 60 different produce items on 117,000 acres. There are 26,000 acres of watermelons, and 22,000 acres of grapefruit out of a total of 29,000 acres of citrus.
As of 2018, Texas had a population of 28 million people and has the third highest growth population rate of all the states at 1.8 percent per year.
J & D Produce Inc. of Edinburg, TX is a grower-shipper in the Rio Grande Valley and has been shipping kale during the winter for over 25 years to the northeastern U.S.
The company estimates 20 percent of what it grows is distributed in the Lone Star State, while the other 80 percent is shipped out of the state wholesale terminal markets and retail distribution centers, mostly east of the Mississippi River.
Texas is so important in grapefruit and orange production that when California’s largest grower-shipper wanted to fill out their portfolio of year-round citrus, they looked to the Lower Rio Grand Valley.
Wonderful Citrus of Los Angeles grows and ships Texas grapefruit and oranges. While volume during the past five years has been flat, new plantings of grapefruit and oranges were launched a few years ago. The company is now expecting shipments to increase over the next several years.
Wonderful citrus is now the largest red grapefruit grower in Texas, accounting for 50 to 55 percent total share of volume this winter season.
Although Florida remains the orange juice king despite struggles with citrus greening disease, California and Texas are by far the leading fresh market citrus producers with a combined total of nearly 300,000 acres,
The 2018-2019 Texas vegetable shipments experienced problems due to weather factors during the growing season and will conclude in the middle of April. Excessive rains in the Rio Grande Valley, including the Winter Garden district west of San Antonio, made for difficulty in planting schedules, and then later with harvesting, packing and shipping.
In 2016, U.S. fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico reached about 10 million metric tons, with a total value of about $12.4 billion, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service statistics, which accounted for 43 percent of all U.S. fruit-and-vegetable imports from all countries.
About half of all the fresh produce coming into the country from Mexico does so through Texas. Each year, 255,000 truckloads cross the border from Mexico into Texas. At the Pharr International Bridge south of McAllen alone, 157,000 loads of produce come in every year, which is a little more than Nogales, AZ.
Tomatoes account for nearly 30 percent of all the vegetables imported from Mexico, while avocados, watermelons and limes make up more than half the volume of fruits.
Over the previous 12 years, fresh produce from Mexico has grown significantly each year, the biggest items being tomatoes, avocados, limes, mangos and broccoli. Mangos and limes are very close in volume and one or the other can lead in volume from year-to-year to rank number 5 in imports. The volume of both is now larger than sweet peppers.
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.
While Michigan and New York took major hits with apple crops this year, there are plenty of apples for hauling through the end of the season, which won’t occur until next summer. In fact, nine percent more apples remain in USA storages, compared to a year ago.
As of December 1st around 103 million bushels of fresh-market apples remained for haulers. This also is nine percent above the five-year average.
Forget the freeze-related losses in Michigan and New York, Washington state is loading the fruit in record numbers. 34-million bushels of red delicious apples alone, remain to be shipped. Beside red delicious, there are more Galas, golden delicious, fujis and granny smiths than last year.
While loads of Florida citrus will be down by five percent this season, the USDA still sees 146 million boxes being shipped. The primary decrease in volume will occur with the early and mid season varieties, which are off seven percent. The USDA issued its first forecast in October and will follow with monthly updates through the end of the season in July.
The USDA makes its first estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly as the crop takes shape until the end of the season in July. Disease and weather factors are cited for the decline in volume.
During the 2011-12 season, Florida moved 146.6 million boxes of oranges.
For Florida specialty fruit, the USDA predicts volume declines with tangelos and tangerines.
As for Florida grapefruit, the Sunshine state should ship around 18 million boxes, down from the forecaset of 20.3 million boxes a month ago.
Florida citrus – grossing about $2400 to New York.
Washington state apples – about $5600 to New York.
Florida certainly isn’t a destination many produce haulers seek in the fall, unless they are taking a vacation. It is historically quite difficult to find return loads out of the Sunshine state after delivering there. Still, here’s a look at what should be available with citrus and vegetable loads during the next couple of months.
There will be fewer navel oranges available, but larger volumes of grapefruit and tangerines as Florida’s early season shipments move to bigger volumes. The USDA issued on October 11th it’s first season forecast. Florida expects to ship 2.2 million equivalent cartons of navels, 17 percent less than a year ago. Although fewer loads are forecast, it still is a decent volume for the state. While citrus shipments are moving into good volume, lighter movement is seen starting in late December and early January.
Fall vegetable loadings from Central and Southern Florida are expected to be down from a year ago, particularly with items such as sweet corn, green beans, bell peppers, cucumbers and squash. While the harvest began last month, we’re looking at mid November to around Thanksgiving before better volume starts.
While plantings of Florida fall veggies are generally lower this season, larger volume with strawberries from the Plant City area is expected. Light harvest starts in late November with volume and shipments increasing during December.
The Salinas Valley continues to provide the best loading opportunities with fall produce. Shipments of vegetables are holding pretty steady from week to week. Various types of lettuce is providing the heaviest volume. When you combine lettuce, with volume coming from celery, broccoli and cauliflower, the Salinas Valley is averaging about 3,400 truck loads of vegetables a week.
This doesn’t include various lighter volume mixed vegetables, or berries. While the Watsonville district is shipping around 500 truck loads of strawberries weekly, this volume is declining. The nearby Santa Maria district is remain fairly steady with less volume, while shipments from Ventura County are very light, but increasing.
In previous reports there has been coverage of California citrus hauling prospects. Here is some information on lemon shipments, most of which will originate from the California and Arizona deserts between now until February. Loads will also be available from California’s San Joaquin Valley. Overall, lemon volume could be up 20 percent over a year ago.
The San Joaquin Valley’s biggest volume currently is with table grapes and tomatoes. Grape volume easily leads the pack. From the Bakersfield are northward through the San Joaquin Valley, grapes are averaging about 1800 truckloads per week.
Mature green tomato shipments from Central California are totalling over 725 truckloads per week.
San Joaquin Valley grapes, tomatoes, etc. – grossing about $6700 to New York City.
Salinas Valley vegetables, berries – about $4400 to Chicago.
Loading opportunities with Florida citrus will be up slightly from a year ago, following the trend of two other major citrus shipping states, California and Texas.
Overall orange shipments in Florida, which goes primarily to processors, is expected to increase four percent, from 206.2 million boxes to 214.9 million boxes.
The USDA predicts Florida loads to see only a slight increase, with the differnce coming in white grapefruit. However, a majority of grapefruit is for the fresh market.
Florida’s speciality citrus production is predicted to fall by seven percent for early-season and the later-season honey tangerines.
Overall Florida fresh produce shipments are entering the slowest time of the year. Good volume normally doesn’t return until late March or April when the spring mixed vegetable season cranks up.
As for USA citrus loading opportunities, the USDA sees a national increase for the fast approaching season. Overall USA citrus shipments are forecast to increase this upcoming season on all varieties except for Florida tangerines, California valencias and Texas oranges, which all are predicted to see slight declines. California’s main citrus volume is with navel oranges, while Texas typically ships a lot more grapefruit than oranges from the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
The USDA predicts the USA will increase overall citrus volume from last season’s 272.4 million equivalent cartons to 284.3 million equivalent cartons this year, a 4.2 percent hike.
Early, midseason and navel oranges are forecast to remain the same from last season, and late-season valencias are expected to increase from last season’s 73 million boxes to 80 million boxes this year.
Southern California orange shipments have picked up as late season citrus quality has improved. Loading opportunities for navel oranges should continue through most of June…..Looking ahead to cherry shipments, loads will become available later this year than normal – with decent volume not occurring from the Southern San Joaquin Valley until the second or third week of May. Barring bad weather, California could ship 11 to 12 million cartons of cherries this year.
California is shipping about 1,000 truckloads of strawberries a week, with heaviest volume still coming out of Ventura County….Most lettuce loads are coming from of the Huron District in the San Joaquin Valley….Salinas has light volume with broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and other items, but is increasing and should really get going as we enter of the month of May.
Southern California produce – grossing about $6600 to New York City.
California peach, plum and nectarine shipments, which were expected to start in a few weeks, will be reduced due to an April 11 hail storm. The affected area ranges from Hannaford to near Oros, with the Traver area hit hardest. Damage assessements and how much shipments will be affected are still being assessed…..Meanwhile, lettuce shipments continue from Huron in the San Joaquin Valley. Light to moderate vegetable loadings are taking place from Salinas.
In Florida, red potato loadings continue increasing from southern and central parts of the state. However, it is various spring vegetables still providing the most volume….The Sunshine state is still shipping citrus. Orange loadings should total 145 million boxes, up from 139 million a year ago. Florida grapefruit volume should hit 18.8 million boxes, up slightly from last year.
Steady shipments of Idaho potatoes continue, averaging about 1700 truckload equivalents per week.
Idaho potatoes – grossing about $4000 to Atlanta.
California Huron area lettuce – grossing about $7000 to Boston.
Central Florida vegetables – about $2600 to Philadelphia.
Supplies of refrigerated equipment are tightening for hauling Lower Rio Grande Valley produce, as well as Mexico fresh products crossing the border into Texas. This has resulted in some relatively small rate increases. Everything from grapefruit, oranges, greens, and cabbage, among other items are being hauled out of South Texas to various U.S. destinations.
There continues to be steady movement of Colorado potatoes out of the San Luis Valley…..The same goes for Michigan apples from the Western part of the state.
In the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota shipments of red potatoes have recently increased by about 15 percent. Most of this season, loadings have been below those of a year ago. However, increased demand should keep shipments above 2011 levels through the spring and into the summer. No significant rate increases have been reported.
Grand Forks, ND red potatoes shipments – grossing about $3900 to Philadelphia.
Despite a freeze on January 3-4, which caused some damage to early spring Florida produce, overall it has been a warmer-than-normal winter and most shipments should be one to two weeks earlier. Florida’s peak spring shipments will occur from late March, extending into May until hot weather begins reducing volume.
Florida spring loadings often involve multiple pick ups of items ranging from bell peppers to squash, cabbage, cucumbers and other veggies. Loads with multiple pick ups often mean multiple drops at the other end of the haul, so be sure and negotiate your freight rates with this in mind.
Tomatoes are a big volume item from Florida and expect loads to be available a week earlier than usual from the Immokalee and Palmetto-Ruskin areas — starting in early April.
As for citrus, shipments are expected to wind down up to three weeks earlier on items such as tangerines (late March) and grapefruit (in April). Tangerine loadings normally end in late April.
Florida ships a significant amount of spring red potatoes from the southern part of the state such as from Lake Wales. Heaviest red potato loadings take place during March and April.
Florida watermelon shipments will get underway in early April.
South Florida red potatoes grossing about $2600 to Philadelphia.