Photo: Courtesy Vidalia® Onion Committee
Shipments of New Jersey-grown peaches should get underway in early July, a little later than last year. Good quality and quantity are being predicted, with loadings lasting through mid-September. More volume is seen this season since some trees planted three to five years ago are coming into production. (more…)
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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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Florida blueberry growers and shippers remain optimistic despite two consecutive years of weather challenges. Those in the industry call it the ‘blue wave.’ Shipments are continuing the increase each year.
In 1995, annual per capita consumption of blueberries in North America was just 15.5 ounces. Then in the late 1990s “blues” were labeled a super food followingresearch by the late Jim Joseph, a human nutrition researcher at Tufts University in Boston. The study revealed blueberries having the highest antioxidant levels among 40 common fruits and vegetables. Anti-oxidants inhibit cell damage related to aging and diseases in the human body.
By the year 2000, per capita blueberry consumption had jumped 15 percent to 17.8 ounces, and soared through the rest of the decade, reaching 39.5 ounces in 2011.
Then scientist Paul Lyrene, a horticulture professor at the University of Florida, developed new blueberry varieties suitable for Florida’s warmer climate based on native bushes he found in the Winter Haven area,.
The USDA reports over the past 20 years Florida commercial blueberry shipments have grown from 2.1 million pounds on 1,200 acres in 1992 to 17.1 million pounds on 4.500 acres in 2012.
The Florida blueberry shipments occur generally from late March to early May, depending upon weather and market conditions. During that time, Florida is the nation’s only source of domestic blueberries.
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While California is the top shipper of peaches, South Carolina and Georgia usually rank second and third, and not necessarily in that order, depending upon the season.
Peach shipments from South Carolina will get started by early June, usually a few days later than nearby Georgia. However, it won’t be until good shipments come on several weeks later, you’ll have decent loading opporunities. Peak loadings should come just in time for the Fourth of July.
An unseasonably cold March and disease could very well slash watermelon shipments from Central and South Florida by 50%.
Western Michigan apple shippers apparently dodged the proverbial bullet last week, avoiding significant freeze damage, which would have been a scary repeat of a year ago, when most shipments were wiped out by the cold. It appears there will be be good apple shipments when movement starts this summer.
Similar to 2012, Michigan growers have 36,500 acres in apple production this season.
Asparagus growers in Southern Ontario have taken a hit as freezing temperatures took their toll on the crop recently. Frozen asparagus has a clear appearance and spears will droop as it warms up and should not be shipped. However, these plants will grow more spears.
Avocados from Mexic0Produce truckers this season have already picked up a lot of avocado at ports of entry along the Southern border. Trucks have delivered nearly a million pounds of Mexican avocados to markets across the USA and Canada. However, this is only the beginning. Before the season ends later this year, a billion pounds of Mexican avocadoes will have been hauled to markets a cross North America.
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Here’s a round up of some loading and coming loading opportunities in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, where produce shipments have been slower gaining momentum due to temperatures below normal.
Tomato shipments have pretty much finished in the Immokalee area and have shifted to the Palmetto-Ruskin district. Loadings were very light at the beginning of May, but now volume is picking up. Due to weather conditions some disease problems have appeared, so be watchful what you are putting on the truck.
Florida watermelons like it hot and cool weather has put shipments behind schedule. Watermelon loadings should be hitting good volume by the end of May.
Mixed vegetables also continue to be shipped.
Blueberry shipments continue to increase from Georgia as new acreage comes into production each year. In fact, the state is now one of the leading shippers of “blues.” Georgia should have about 70 million pounds of blueberries, which equals about 1,750 truckload equivalents.
Georgia has about 22,000 acres of blueberries. Shipments, which have been underway a couple of weeks, are now moving into volume.
Like other produce items, a cool spring has delayed Georgia peach shipments. There should be around 1.8 to 2 million, 25 pound cartons of peaches for hauling this season. Good quality and normal volume is predicted. Shipments should continue into mid-August.
Vidalia onion shipments are lower due to weather and disease, but moderate volume continues from Southeastern Georgia. Mixed veggies from Central and Southern Georgia also continue.
Despite cold and wet weather prections for South Carolina strawberries, shipments are good. Strawberry loadings usually end in May, but this year are expected to continue through June.
South Carolina peach loadings also look promising. Light shipments get underway in a few weeks. Florida mixed vegetable loads – grossing about $3200 to Chicago.
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California cherry shipments kicked off the third week of April and volume is building. Decent loading opportunities are now just beginning to happen. Decent volume for deliveries in time for the Memorial Day holiday (May 25-27), with earlier varieties are expected. However, the later variety bing volume will be substantially less than a year ago.
The San Joaquin Valley southern region including Brooks and Tulare shipments will likely peak May 16-21. Overall peak shipments should be around May 25 to June 7. The bing cherry crop shipments are expected to be off by 30% to 50% from last year, due in large part to an alternate-bearing cycle.
California has had normal asparagus shipments during April, but loadings are expected lighter than usual now and this will probablycontinue through May.
Like so many areas of the country, a colder than normal spring has Michigan asparagus shipments off to a slow to start. Significant increases in volume are not expected until the third week of May, two weeks or more behind schedule.
After recovering from an early March freeze, Florida sweet corn grower-shippers are finally entering peak spring shipments. Peak loadings normally start around mid-April.
Georgia sweet corn shipments also are going to be a little later due to the cold growing season. Corn loadings from Georgia should start in late May, but decent shipments will not be happening until early June. Georgia’s shipments normally end after July 4.
South Georgia vegetables – grossing about $2400 to New York City.
Central Florida vegetables – about $4000 to Boston.
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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.
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Strawberry shipments from the Plant City, FL area have been underway for more than a month, but only in very light volume. This is changing as available loads will show significant increases by December 10, and be in big volume around December 15-20. Central Florida also has very light volume with cherry, grape, roma and green tomatoes. The area also is shipping variety of vegetables. However, this overall is seasonally a very light volume period for Florida. Expect multiple pickups to involved with most loads.
You may even have to fill out the trailer from those Florida pick ups with a few pallets of cabbage, greens or broccoli from Southern Georgia. In fact, the whole Eastern seaboard extending into the Northeast and New England doesn’t hold a lot of volume, but sometimes something is better than nothing.
In eastern growing areas of North Carolina, the biggest volume is with sweet potatoes, not necessarily known for paying the best freight rates…..In upstate New York, Orange County is shipping storage onions, while central and western areas are loading cabbage. New York apples were hit pretty hard by freezing weather earlier this year, especially from western and central shipping points. Even the Hudson Valley did not escape the freeze, although it came out better than the rest of the state.
In northern Maine, Aroostoock County is shipping around 150 truck loads of potatoes a week.
Maine potatoes – grossing about $1700 to New York City.
North Carolina sweet potatoes – about $1500 to Atlanta.
Florida vegetables and strawberries – about $2600 to Boston.
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Wishing you safe travels if you’re on the road this holiday. Otherwise, I trust you are able to spend Thanksgiving with those you love and cherish the most. We have so much for which to be thankful in this great country. May God’s blessing be with each and everyone of you.
Here’s a few interesting facts about Thanksgiving.
The famous pilgrim celebration at Plymouth Colony Massachusetts in 1621 is traditionally regarded as the first American Thanksgiving. However, there are actually 12 claims to where the “first” Thanksgiving took place: two in Texas, two in Florida, one in Maine, two in Virginia, and five in Massachusetts.
The first Thanksgiving in America actually occurred in 1541, when Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his expedition held a thanksgiving celebration in Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas panhandle.
One of the most popular first Thanksgiving stories recalls the three-day celebration in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621. Over 200 years later, President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving, and in 1941 Congress established the fourth Thursday in November as a national holiday.
Now a Thanksgiving dinner staple, cranberries were actually used by Native Americans to treat arrow wounds and to dye clothes.
Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), who tirelessly worked to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday, also was the first person to advocate women as teachers in public schools, the first to advocate day nurseries to assist working mothers, and the first to propose public playgrounds. She was also the author of two dozen books and hundreds of poems, including “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
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Strawberries continue to be a favorite of consumers, as well as other berries ranging from raspberries to blueberries and blackberries. The popularity of each continues to increase. The fruit not only is tasty, but healthy.
The agricultural lending company Rabobank sees retail berry sales continuing to incrase by seven percent annually for the next three years.
Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory group recently released a report, titled “The U.S. Fresh Berry Boom — Who Will Profit from the Growth?”
No surprising is the report notes California will continue to be the leading producer of fresh berries for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Sharpest gains in recent years have been with strawberries and blueberries.
California produces 88 percent of the country’s fresh strawberries and significant portions of fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Florida is also a significant producer of fresh berries.
During the fall and winter months strawberry and blueberry importes from Mexico and Chile compete directly with Florida’s season. Chile now accounts for over 50 percent of imported blueberries.
Consumers are now purchasing more berries that been grown south from British Columbia and continuing all the way south along the coast to Chile. This shift will continue following seasonal patterns, but also seeing increased volume in the more southern regions.
Over the past five years, California has shown tremendous growth in strawberry production the past five years. In 2008, the state produced 114 million cartons of strawberries, which grew to 181 million cartons in 2010. In 2011, volume actually slipped to 178 million cartons but this year, but in 2013, the total volume should be in the 190 million carton range.
The majority of those gains come from increased yields. California’s strawberry acreage totalled 36,519 acres in 2008, but was down to 37,732 acres this year.
It is a different story for blueberries. Worldwide statistics show total world acreage of blueberries has grown significantly over the years. It has quadrupled in the past 15 years and now sits near 200,000 acres with most of that being in North and South America. The Americas represent close to 80 percent of the world’s blueberry acreage and production.
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