Posts Tagged “Colorado”

Loadings for Apples, Watermelons, Onions and Potatoes

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Apple shipments will remain good through the remainder of the season (late July) as about 36 million bushels of fresh-market apples, mostly in Washington state, remain in storage for shipping.  This is  about  21% more than last year at the same time.

The  21% figure also represents how many more apples remain to be shipped compared to  the 5-year average.  Less than 1 million bushels of apples remain to be hauled from other states besides Washington.

There was more fruit remaining in storages for all major apple varieties to be shipped compared to last year at this time.

Washington state apples – grossing about $6500 to New York City.


While watermelon shipments in Florida got underway in early May, it will be the end of the month before there is decent volume.  Weather and disease factors will reduce Florida melon loading opportunities this season…Both Texas and Arizona are loading watermelons, with good volume not arriving until around the Memorial Day weekend (May 25-27).

Sweet Onions

Looking ahead to the Northwest,  Walla Walla, WA growers have planted approximately 600 acres of the Walla Walla sweet onions this year, down  slightly from the 2012 season.   Sweet onion shipments should get going around  mid-June and running through mid-August.  In total, Washington state last year shipped non-storage onions from about 2,500 acres, up slightly from 2011.


Idaho continues trying to shed itself of another mammoth crop of russet potatoes.  The state is averaging nearly 1,700 truckload equivalents of spud shipments weekly, although a significant amount of this is moving by rail….Second heaviest potato shipments are currently coming out of the San Luis Valley of Colorado, where about 575 truckload equivalents are moving each week.

San Luis Valley potatoes – grossing about $1700 to Dallas.

Idaho potatoes – about $5525 to Boston.

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Potato Loads, Georgia Veggies and Imported Grapes

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USA potato loads will be up eight percent over a year ago when this season ends around August.  The 991,500 acres of spuds is six percent more than athe previous season.  Of course, Idaho shipments easily lead all other states, but there are significant loadings available in Washington state, Oregon, Wisconsin, the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota, among others.

Idaho is shipping about 1750 truckload equivalents of potatoes per week, although a greater percentage is shipped by rail than most other spud production areas….By contrast, Colorado’s San Luis Valley is moving about 1000 loads per week, all by truck.

Southeastern Greens

Central and southern areas of Georgia are loading  collards, kale, mustard and turnip tops for the holidays.  Loads of greens should continue from Georgia into March or April, depending on the weather.  Broccoli also is being shipped.

Chilean Imported Grapes

While Chilean grapes are starting to  arrive in the USA anytime now, it will be late January before good volume and loading opportunities are available at USA ports.   Grapes arriving at such ports as Wilmington, NC; Philadelphia, and Long Beach, CA are shipped throughout the states and into Canada, with volume expected to top last year.

Georgia vegetables – grossing about $2800 to Boston.

Idaho potatoes – about $5400 to New York

Colorado potatoes – about $2000 to San Antonio.


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Maine Potato Hauling Opportunities Should Be Better This Season

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Potato haulers should find the quality of Maine’s potato crop this year to be the best in a number of years. Last year, growers were plagued with too much water and a disease known as blight.

The Maine potato harvest was recently completed, which is always a race against finishing before the first hard freeze, which damage spuds remaining in the ground.  The majority of the state’s spuds are shipped throughout New England, the northeast and as far south as the mid-Atlantic states.

55,000 acres of Maine potatoes were harvested this year.  This is small in comparison the nation’s biggest shipper.  Idaho has increased its acreage by 25,000 every year for the past several years. This year, the state is reporting 345,000 acres. In 2011, it planted 320,000, and in 2010 it had 295,000 acres.

Idaho has increased in just two years the equivalent of the entire state of Maine’s production.

By comparison, Wisconsin has 63,000 acres, Colorado  and Maine are at 55,000, Minnesota 51,000, Michigan at 46,000, Oregon has 41,000, and New York 17,000 acres.

Added together, these states tally 332,000 acres, 13,000 less than Idaho alone produces.

Most of Maine’s potatoes are grown and shipped from Aroostock County, the state’s largest county.  It is the northern most county in the state and has a population of 71,482 as of 2011.  In the Native American language it means “beautiful language” and is aptly nicknamed The Crown of Maine, in part because of its location.

The potato is northern Maine’s primary agricultural product and in the 1940s Maine’s potato production was tops in the nation. By 1994 however, Maine had fallen to the eighth ranked potato producer and the seventh in the number of acres devoted to potato cultivation in the United States.

The number of acres of farm land devoted to potatoes has decreased in recent years because of rotational crops, conservation and fewer farmers. However, in the year 2000, Maine grew 63,000 acres of potatoes and nearly 90 percent of that was in Aroostook County.

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Central USA Produce Loads: North Dakota to Texas

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Recent rains in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota has helped the harvest due to badly needed moisture in the soil for digging operations.  About 150 truck loads of potatoes was shipped last week and should be increasing in the weeks ahead.

Russet potato shipments are increasing from Central portions of Wisconsin.  During the past week around 500 truck loads of potatoes were being trucked to various markets.  There also are loadings of cranberries from Central Wisconsin, as well as cabbage from the Southeastern portions of the state.

Only about 25 percent of the Wisconsin potato volume is being shipped out of Nebraska.  Most product is originating out out of the southwestern and the northeastern portions of the Cornhusker state.

In the Northeastern area of Colorado, there are moderate shipments of storage onions.

Michigan normally is shipping a lot more apples this time of the year, but a devastating freeze about six months ago has drastically reduced volume.   There is light volume with potatoes, but the focus continues to be harvesting spuds for storage.  Potato shipments should significantly increase in November.

Texas cabbage shipments are occuring from the Winter Garden District, just south of San Antonio.  In another month shipments of  grapefruit and oranges should be increasing out of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Central Wisconsin potatoes – grossing about $2500 to Atlanta.

Grand Forks, ND potatoes – about

Colorado potatoes – about $4000 to New York City.







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Western Potato and Onion Shipments Increasing

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Potatoes and onions, commonly known as “hardware items” because they are less perishable and generally pose fewer problems when hauling, also normally do not pay as good a freight as most more perishable items.  However, the further into fall and the closer to winter, overall fresh fruit and vegetable volume declines, and so do freight rates — and loading opportunties.  Therefore, if nothing more than out of necessity potatoes and onions begin looking more attractive if you want or need  to haul produce.

Oregon Onions

In the Snake River area of Oregon there is good demand heading into winter for trucks. An early start of the shipping season combined with fewer onions means less product is left for shipping than normal.   Truck loads could be down 15-20% for Treasure Valley growers, due to the fourth-hottest summer on record and other weather-related issues.   Fewer onions  mean shippers are having less difficulty finding enough trucks to move product.

Idaho-Oregon Onions

Around the border area of Western Idaho and Malheur County, OR, nearly 700 truckloads of storage onions are being shipped weekly.

Washington-Oregon Onions and Potatoes

Similar volume with onion shipments are available from the border area of the Columbia Basin in Washington and the Umatilla Basin of Oregon.   In Northwest Washington, just north of Seattle is light volume with red and white potatoes from the Skagit Valley.

Idaho Potatoes

The nation’s largest volume potato shipper has another huge crop this year.  The state is averaging around 1500 truck load equivalents per week, although a significant amount of these potatoes are loaded in rail cars.

Colorado Potatoes and Onions

Storage onions are being shipped from Colorado’s Western Slope, near Olathe, and will continue well into January.  Excellent quality is reported.  Loads have been moving out of the area at a brisk pace in part because of Colorado’s freight advantage over western shippers….In south-central Colorado is the San Luis Valley, which is shipping around 750 truck loads of spuds per week.

Colorado potatoes – grossing about $1800 to Dallas.

Idaho potatoes – about $5500 to New York City.

Columbia Basin/Umatilla Basin (Washington and Oregon) potatoes and onions – about $4200 to Chicago.

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Colorado Ranks in Top 5 with Potato Shipments

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During the 2011-12 shipping season, truckers hauled nealy 35,000 truckload loads of Colorado potatoes to destinations thoughout the USDA.  The Rocky Mountain state has started shipments for the 2012-13 season, although volume is very light.

Harvesting began in August with some farming operations, but others are just getting underway with digging potatoes.  San Luis Valley potato acreage is up slightly this year and totals 55,100 acres.  While this is certainly significant, it doesn’t compare to th 72,000 acres planted a decade ago.  70 years ago colo had 175 grower/shippers.  now there are about 20.  although fewer, they are much larger operations.

Some growers started harvesting in August, and others are beginning in early-to-mid September, depending on location and conditions.

The San Luis Valley produces 92% of Colorado’s potatoes,  with the remaining spuds coming primarily from the Greeley area.  Colorado  is ranked in the top five potato producing areas in the USA, both in acres planted and production.  Colorado is the number 2 fresh potato shipper in the country.

Location of the San Luis Valley is south, central CO.  It is found southwest of Pueblo, CO, with the heart of its potato shipments coming from the Monte Vista and Center, CO area.

85% of the valley’s potatoes are russets, although it produces about 60 different variets of potatoes in all.

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Some Obvious, Not So Obvious Loading Opportunities

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Produce shipments from the Western half of the USA offer perishable haulers some obvious and not-so-obvious choices for obtaining loads.

Here’s some places you may not have considered.  New crops of potatoes are now available in some upper mid-western states.  The Big Lake, MN area is shipping both red potatoes and russets.  New crops of spuds have recently got underway from Central Wisconsin, Nebraska and Northern Colorado.

In Idaho and Malheur County, OR., loading opportunities have recently become available with a new crop of storage onions.  While the area is known for its onions, a few shippers are starting to offer sweet onions.  Just be aware that these shippers are new at this game and still may be on a learning curve relating to quality.  Sweet onions often do not store well.

In California, the heaviest volume from the Salinas Valley is with head lettuce, averaging about 1,100 truck load equivalents per week.  Many other vegetable items are also being shipped…..In the nearby Watsonville District, about 750 truckload equivalents of strawberriers are being loaded weekly.

Plenty of loading opportunities are coming from the San Joaquin Valley of California with stone fruit, veggies and grapes.  Heaviest table grape movement is from the southern valley area known as the Kern District, but volume is rapidly increasing from more northern areas of the valley.

An update on apple shipments from Washington state, shows it will account for 77 percent of the nation’as apple shipments during the 2012-13 shipping season.  Washington always leads the nation in this category, but with heavy weather related losses to apples in Michigan and New York state, the northwest will provide an even more than normal percentage of the country’s apple loads.  Washington expects to ship its second largest amount of apples in history; and this is despite a 10 to 15 percent crop loss due to hail storms earlier this year.

Salinas Valley produce – grossing about $7500 to New York City.

Big Lake MN potatoes – about $1300 to Chicago.

Central Wisconsin potatoes – about $2500 to Atlanta.



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Loading Opportunities Around the Country

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While I’ve written some reports suggesting caution when loading Washington state apples from the Wenachee Valley due to damage from a July 20 hail storm, information is now starting to come out relating to the pears from the same area.  Expect pear shippers to be loading some “hail grade” pears.  Appearance is affected, but eating quality should be fine.  Just make sure the parties with whom you are working to deliver the load are aware of this condition to the fruit and it is noted on the bill of lading.  Washington state pear shipments are expected to set a record this season volume wise.

In Michigan, produce shipments have been running early this season, not only for vegetables, but blueberries.  Expect both to complete shipping a week or two ahead of schedule this summer.  Michigan blueberry volume will drop significantly beginning the week of August 27th…..Expect a similar situation with “blues” coming out of Oregon and British Columbia.

In the San Luis Valley of Colorado, potato hauls should be ramping up by the end of August…Virtually all USA potato shipping areas are expecting to load more spuds during the 2012-13 shipping season.

On the East Coast, watermelon shipments have increased significantly over the past three years from Maryland and Delaware.  Virginia also is shipping melons…..Expect increased loading opportunities on watermelons for the upcoming Labor Day weekend from areas ranging from West Texas to Indiana and North Carolina.

Delaware watermelons – grossing about $1100 to New York City.


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Potato, Onion Rates will Appear More Attractive Soon

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Most fruit and vegetable rates are paying significantly more than rates on potatoes and onions right now, but the difference in rates will be shrinking in the next several weeks as overall fruit and veggie volume seasonally declines and the spud and onion volume rises with the new crops.

There is over 1 million acres of potatoes planted in the USA for the crop that is now  being harvested.  That is 46,000 more acres than at this time a year ago!  Translation:  There’s a huge crop that will need to be transported to market – and the railroads can only haul a relatively small amount of it.  That means plenty of hauling opportunties this fall, winter and next spring for truckers with refrigerated equipment. 

The top nine states with the most potatoes in order of size are:  Idaho, Washington, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Oregon.

Idaho, the USA’s biggest potato producer,  will have a lot more potatoes for hauling this season.

Potato shipments from Washington and Oregon get underway in early August, with volume expected to be normal and about the same as a year ago.  Washington has about 25,000 acres of spuds for the fresh market.  The Umatilla-Hermiston potato volume may be down a little from last season.  No big deal though.

In central Wisconsin, red, white, yellow and russet potato diggings have been underway and shipments begin when the old crop is all sold, or customers begin demanding fresh potatoes from the new season, over the old ones which have been in storages forever.  The spuds becoming available will be more abundant than on average from the past five years.


Helping Western onion shipments was the early demise of the Vidalia, GA onion season.  It has created bigger demand for onions in the West and demand for trucks from places such as Bakersfield, CA and from Southern New Mexico and the Pasco area of Washington state.  Also, imported onions from Peru will begin arriving at USA ports in early August.

Idaho potatoes are grossing – about $4800 to New York City’s Hunts Point.






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Look for New Season Pears, Potatoes, Grapes, Sweet Onions

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Here’s some items that are now available in your local supermarket, or will be available soon.

Starkrimson pears are among the first to be harvested early in the season and have a crimson red color that brightens as its ripens. They have a juicy texture and sweet flavor. Starkrimson pears are recognizable by their unique color and thick, stocky stem with a neck that appears to be growing up and around it.

Bosc pears are large with an elongated neck and have a distinct bronze/yellow color.

Bartlett is among the top pears in the U.S.   Bartlett pears are bell-shaped with a classic sweet pear flavor and smooth, buttery texture. Bartlett pears are excellent for fresh eating and are a common pear used for canning.

Bartlett pears are the most popular of the pear varieties.  They are picked at full mataurity in August and will ripen from green to yellow by the time they reach your supermarket shelves.  The Bartlett is a classic pear for canning and is great for fresh eating, pies and sauce.

Sweet onions from the Vidalia, GA area are pretty much history because of a smaller crop and the season ending earlier than normal.  While it may be the most famous of the sweet onions, a number of other states have established themselves in the past decade or so as providing consumers with some pretty tasty sweet onions themselves.  South Texas also grows a good sweet onions, but it has ended like Vidalia.

California is now providing sweet onions and will do so into August.

One alleged “sweet onion” I would avoid are those from Colorado.  Every year the Rocky Mountain state has bags of onions in my local supermarket labeled “sweet” and they never fail to disappoint, much less set my mouth on fire.

One of the best sweet onions coming on before long I’ve been pleased with from year to year is from the Skagit Valley in Washington state.

One of the better imported sweet onions that should be in your stores by early August are from Peru.  Sometimes, they are lacking a little sweetness at the start of the season, but get better as we move closer to fall.

You should also be seeing some good reasonable retail prices on table grapes from California, especially with the red grapes right now.  Soon to follow will be  the yellow seedless grapes.  With a good chance for a record crop from California, there should be some good prices on grapes this summer.

Another good buy in the coming weeks and months should be on potatoes with the new crop set to start.  The USA has over one million acres of spuds planted, which is 46,000 more acres than at this time last year.




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