Increased shipments from Mexico with ocean carrier World Direct Shipping is coming to Port Manatee in Central Florida with addition of another weekly stop to the port. At the same time, damage estimates to Florida produce are coming from the state.
World Direct Shipping has announced the increase in service to the port by the company, which was first established in 2014. Ships depart from the north-central part of Veracruz, from Port Tuxpan, in a service starting January 12th.
“We couldn’t be happier with how the initial service has thrived, with our 2 ½-day transit time offering the fastest short-sea connection between Mexico and the U.S. Southeast, Northeast and Midwest for refrigerated produce and other cargos,” said Carlos Diaz, director of Palmetto, Fla.-based World Direct Shipping, in a news release.
The new service complements the other World Direct Shipping arrival at the port, starting from Coatzacoalcos, Diaz said. Tuxpan is the closest commercial port to Mexico City, providing for more opportunities for fruit exports.
The weekly schedules call for Friday departures and Monday arrivals for the new service. Currently, ships leave Coatzacoalcos on Saturday and arrive at Port Manatee on Tuesdays.
Florida vs. Hurricane Irma
While Florida isn’t exactly a mecca for produce loads during the fall and winter, there are going to be less opportunities than ever in the coming months as the state works to recover from the damages resulting from Hurricane Irma.
The early assessment of total damages to agricultural production in the state is $2.5 billion.
Over 420,000 acres of citrus production were hit, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Losses were heaviest in Collier and Hendry counties, which estimated losses at $2,500 an acre for about 94,000 acres. Eleven other counties projected losses of $1,750 per acre for about 254,000 acres, and Polk and Martin counties estimated damages at $1,100 per acre for about 72,000 acres.
Many trees were just a few weeks from harvest when the storm hit.
Along with fruit loss and infrastructure damage, growers are worried over trees dying due to flooding, which is not included in this initial estimate.
Florida citrus sales still hover near $1 billion, despite the downturn in the last decade due to citrus greening disease.
Damage to the other fruit and vegetable crops in Florida, were found on over 163,000 acres.
Because the planting season was just beginning for most vegetables, the crop losses will result in shorter seasons, market distortions and lower yields because of the storm diluting the pesticides that had been applied to fields.
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If great spring weather for growing vegetables, combined with optimism by Florida shippers mean anything, this should be one of the better years in a while for hauling produce from the Sunshine state.
Dozens of mixed vegetables are now being shipped, or will soon get underway. Similar to the strawberry crop that got an early start this season from the Plant City area (and is now finished), one would think Florida vegetable shipments would follow a similar path of earlier than usual volume.
April and May are typically the heaviest volume months, so we’ll see. The biggest movers currently are mature green, plum and grape tomatoes averaging over 350 truck loads a week. Other leading items are cabbage, sweet corn, potatoes (red, white and yellow), bell peppers and green beans. Very light volume is with numerous veggies ranging from cucumbers to lettuce, radish, and celery to eggplant.
Keep in mind, Florida isn’t Mexico or California when it comes to volume. There’s a reason so many multiple pick ups and drops are associated with hauling produce out of Florida.
Spring watermelons are heavy volume in season, but the first melons from Florida will not start until around the middle of April from the Immokalee area. In fact, most loadings of Florida produce for the next several weeks will occur in Southern and Central areas of the state.
Another significant item is Florida blueberry shipments, which have been increasing in volume in recent years. “Blues” will be starting in April.
Although Florida doesn’t compare to South Carolina, Georgia, or certainly not California, it does ship peaches as far north as Canada and across the Mississippi River. Operations such as Florida Sweet Peaches in Arcadia and Florida Classic Growers in Dundee have been expanding. Peach shipments should get underway in late March and continue through April and possibly early May.
Florida vegetable shipments – grossing about $2400 to Philadelphia.
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January and February are always frustrating for produce hauls since the lightest volume of the year for fresh fruits and vegetables occur. March often isn’t much better, depending on weather factors. So here’s a peak of various commodities and the shipping potential as we prepare to barrel into spring.
As with many produce items in the west brussels sprout out of California have been in exceptionally light volume due to the California drought. However, supplies of the tiny members of the cabbage family seem to be improving. After a slow start in Mexico, Brussel sprout shipments are picking up from Baja California. The product has increased in popularity since being declared a super food.
Mexican roma tomatoes
Good volume with Mexican roma tomatoes from Sinaloa, Mexico are crossing the border at McAllen, Tx.
Lower Rio Grand Valley, Texas Mexican fruit and vegetable imports and LRGV citrus – grossing about $2400 to Chicago.
Florida Lettuce Quality
Cool, damp conditions in Florida this winter has resulted in an increase in lettuce downy mildew, caused by the oomycete pathogen Bremia lactucae. Primarily a foliar disease, it has a direct effect on yield and quality. Downy mildew causes light green to yellow angular spots on the upper surfaces of leaves. White mycelial growth of the pathogen develops on the under sides of these spots. Over time, these lesions turn brown and dry up. Severely infected leaves may die. In some instances, the pathogen can become systemic, causing discoloration of stem tissue. Extra caution is urged if your hauling Florida lettuce. Know what’s being put in your truck and if need, inform your receiver before leaving the dock.
Florida produce volume still remains light, with multiple pick ups at best required.
Florida vegetables, tomatoes, melons and potatoes – grossing about $2200 to New York City.
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