Posts Tagged “Freeze”

California Strawberry Shipments are Strong; Michigan Freeze Has Asparagus Down, but Not Out

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Asparagus freezeHeavy California strawberry shipments should continue for the foreseeable future.  Meanwhile, Michigan asparagus was clobbered by a hard freeze, but good volume is returning soon.

While fresh strawberry shipments from Oxnard are over with only berries for processing being picked, fresh loadings have moved northward to  Santa Maria and Watsonville. A significant increase in volume took place last week and will the trend will continue.  Watsonville will experience its heaviest strawberry shipments the last week of May through the first week of June.  Santa Maria strawberry shipments are currently peaking.

Additionally, raspberry loadings are now coming out of Watsonville and are expected to have significant volume increases during the next weeks, which will continue through Summer and into the Fall.

Grower report that the four year drought in California resulted in a build up of salt in the soil, but this season’s heavy rains leeched most of that salt out of the ground.  This is making for prime growing conditions, and crop quality.

California strawberry shipments have been heavy since right after Easter with good loading opportunities expected for upcoming holidays in the weeks ahead from the Northern districts.

Santa Maria strawberriy and vegetable shipments – grossing about $4300 to Chicago.

Salinas Valley strawberry and vegetable shipments – grossing about $6600 to New York City.

Michigan Asparagus Shipments

Asparagus is one of the most unusual produce crops I am familiar with.  I was once visiting an asparagus farm in California and the owner told me that under excellent conditions the vegetable grew so fast at night you could literally hear it growing.  It can grow as much as four to six inches a day!

I was reminded of this with the May 8th hard freeze in Michigan that severely hit the asparagus crop (see photo).  Despite temperatures plunging to 23 degrees F. for two to three hours, resulting in  a loss of an estimated 5 to 8 percent of the total crop, the season is far from lost.  Decent volume will be returning this week, with peak volume shipments out of Michigan coming next week.

Typically, the heaviest asparagus shipments occur early in the season.  That won’t happen in Michigan this year.  Even though  all the asparagus that was above ground froze, it will quickly rebound.

Michigan apple shipments – grossing about $2700 to Atlanta.


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Widespread Panic! SE Blueberries, Peaches, other Crops Clobbered by Freeze

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DSCN9012More details are becoming available on that mid March hard freeze that hit crops from North Carolina to Southern Georgia.  Spring produce shipments from the Southeast will definitely be affected.

Georgia Blueberry Shipments

That March 15-17 freeze could reduce Georgia blueberry shipments by as much as 75 percent this spring, costing the industry $400 million.  At best, there is hope “only” 60 percent of the crop was lost, but it could easily be higher in the south-central areas of Georgia, which is heart of blueberry production.

In this area, covering about 50 miles,  60 to 70 percent of Georgia’s blueberry crop is located.  Some farmers have lost 100% of their early production rabbiteye crop.  Temperatures in the area dropped to as low as 21 degrees for three nights in a row in mid-March.

Georgia Peach Shipments

Georgia peach orchards, primarily located in the Ft. Valley area, may have faired better than blueberries.  Shipments may be reduced by “only” 40 to 50 percent.  The lack of chill hours in middle Georgia had delayed the budding process.  Now those buds are emerging, but growers now have to take a wait and see approach.  Because the peaches were so late, it may have protected the crop.

Still,  later on, there’s what is called the “May drop,” where any damaged peaches could start falling from trees.

Vidalia Onion Shipments

Escaping freeze damage was the Vidalia sweet onion crop.  Shippers are still making normal plans for the official April 12 opening shipping date.  It is described as one of the best crops in years.

Georgia Vegetable Shipments

Freeze damage to Georgia vegetables is all over the board.  Bell peppers and other summer vegetables will be lost, while others veggie are expected to be slowed, but not fatally harmed by the weather.  It will be awhile before accurate information is available…..As for Georgia watermelon shipments, there is believed to be some losses, but it should be relatively minor.

North Carolina Fruit Shipments

There is widespread damage to peaches and blueberry crops, but little specific information is available at this time.

South Carolina Produce Shipments

We’ll have a report on Monday, March 27th regarding South Carolina, which actually ships more peaches than Georgia or North Carolina in a normal season.




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National Apple Hauling Outlook

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Looking across the USA, there will be a lot of loading opportunities for apples, particularly in the west, although fewer than a several months ago before weather factors hit some orchards.

In the East, there actually should be a few more loads available for the 2012-13 season from both Pennsylvania and Virginia.  No word on the New England states, but volume from there is relatively light even in good years.

New York state, particularly the central and western shipping areas took a significant hit from freezing weather earlier in the year.  The Hudson Valley apparently escaped pretty much unscathed.  Overall, New York state apple shipments will be down around 50 percent, estimated to be about 590 million pounds.  Before the freeze, the state was looking at about 1.2 billion pounds of apples.

Poor ole Michigan took the biggest hit from freezing temperatures this year.  At one time is was looking to ship 985 million pounds.  Apple tonnage now is forecast at only 105 million pounds.

Washington state, which on any given year shipments about as many apples as the rest of the other states combined, also lost tonnage a few weeks ago from hail storms.  However, it was on course to have record shipments.  Even though that will not now happen, it still will be loading as much fruit on average, as it has over the past five seasons.

Washington’s Yakima and Wenatchee Valley apples – grossing about $5300 to New York City and Hunts Point.


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Reduced Georgia, Florida Loads

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We’re getting more information on how shipments may be affected from Georgia and Florida following a freeze from about a week ago.

slide-imageIn Georgia, it is becoming clearer the cold temperatures did significant damage to blueberries — perhaps as much as 50 percent of the crop.  Hardest hit were the early Georgia  berries, which typically start in late April and provide loadings  through May….There will also be some losses of Vidalia sweet onions, but shipments are not expected to be significantly affected overall.  Onion loadings should kick off in a small way around April 10-15 and move into good volume over the next two weeks.

In Florida, the cold front was not as serious, although initial predictions see blueberry shipments being cut by 20 percent for the season.  Florida blueberries usually begin harvest in the southern and central parts of the state by late March, finishing in early May.  The northern Florida blueberries typically are finished by the middle of May.

In general, the Southeastern freeze damage occured north of Interstate 4 and became progressively worse the further north you go.

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Southeast Shipments

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We are several weeks away from Southern shipments of blueberries as well as blueberry ripesweet onions from Georgia’s Vidalia district.  However, a recent freeze in the Georgia and Northern Florida is bound to reduce volume and loads.  It is a matter of determining how much.

Blueberry shipments normally start in late March and continue until Mid May from Northern Florida, followed by Georgia, which starts  in late May.  Early estimates are all over the board and too unreliable to really get a handle on at this time.

Southeastern Georgia’s famous Vidalia sweet onions are also going to face some losses, but intial inquiries show those losses should not be heavy to the overall shipping season.   It still appears volume could be close to normal once loadings begin around the second week of April and then shipments should start really picking up within a week or two.

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California-Arizona Shipments

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There’s been some freeze damage to fresh produce in the West this month, but overall it should not have a big affect on your loading opportunities. The biggest event will be the cold of January 16-17 slowing the growth of some items, which in turn reduces volume for shipping.
There’s been pretty good movement of Iceberg lettuce and romaine out of the Yuma District, but expect reduced shipments beginning in early Februrary….In the nearby Brawley and El Centro areas of the Southern California desert broccoli escaped freeze damage, but again, shipments will eventually decline for a period while the product rebounds from the cold.
As for strawberries, it looks like Oxnard and Orange County in California dodged the freeze bullet, but product out of Santa Maria will have lighter than normal loadings through the middle of February.

Yuma lettuce – grossing about $6000 to New York City.
In the San Joaquin Valley, oranges apparently escaped freeze damage, while mandrains were not so lucky, especially from areas north of Fresno.

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Florida Produce Freeze Report

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It got pretty nippy January 3 and 4 in Florida and while there apparently was some freeze damage to winter vegetables, it doesn’t sound too serious.   Produce truckers do not have great loading opportunties in Florida this time of year anyway due to the light volume.  The full extent of damage will not be known for another week or so.    Temperatures in the Immokolee area dipped into the mid to upper 20s, affecting some tomatoes, bell peppers and squash….Light loading opportunties should be unaffected until  early February, when damaged product would have started maturing.   When loading these items starting next month keep an eye out for quality and scarring and make sure your receiver knows what is being loaded, to help avoid claims at destination.  Florida tomatoes are among the heaviest volume items this time of year coming out of Southwest Florida and the Homestead areas.   Strawberry volume from the Plant City district apparently escaped any freeze damage.

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Citrus Dodges “Bullet”

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California citrus has dodged a winter weather “bullet” over the holidays as frost hit the San Joaquin Valley.  While oranges and lemons loads should not be affected, it could be mid January or so before clementines and mandrins are evalulated for possible frost damage.  Those latter items have a thinner skin and are more susceptable to freezes.   The good news is that citrus escaping freeze damage tends to toughen up and be more freeze resist, plus have better color.  California expects to ship  around 88 million cartons of navel oranges during the 2011-2012 shipping season.  That’s a respectable volume, although it falls short of the 96 million boxes shipped last year, which was a record.  Only about 15% of the crop has been harvested so there will loading opportunties for months and months to come.

California citrus – grossing about $4000 to Chicago.

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