Posts Tagged “fuel”

Tangerine, Mandarin Shipping; Truck Demand, Rates, and Fuel; Plus the Top 10 Potato States

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AA2There will be fewer tangerine and mandarin shipments from the top producing states this season…A look is taken at truck demand, rates and fuel costs…Plus, here is a glimpse at the top 10 potato shipping states.

California is expected to ship 21 million boxes of tangerines and mandarins this season, down from 23.9 million in 2016-17.

Florida is projected to have 860,000 boxes, down from 1.62 million last season, with the dramatic decrease due to the adverse affects of Hurricane Irma.

The Wonderful Co. of Los Angeles and Sun Pacific of Pasadena, CA are two of the larger shippers of the citrus.

Truck Demand and Rates

While demand for refrigerated equipment and qualified drivers has been getting a lot of attention, diesel fuel price are nearly a three-year high, adding the costs of trucking operations.  According to DAT Trendlines diesel fuel nationally average $3.02 per gallon in December 2017, which was 16 percent more than in December 2016.

The Allen Lund Company of LaCanada, CA, like many other companies, have noticed the economy really taking off.  The transportation firm is seeing 280,000 truck loads a year, a 17 percent increase from the previous year.

Another sign things are looking up for the U.S. economy is the increase in Class 8 truck sales.   Over 300,000 Class 8 tractors were sold in 2017.  When those trucks are delivered throughout the coming year, trucking capacity will be better.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported analysts are expecting long-term contract rates which shippers negotiate with carriers should increase between 5 percent and 8 percent this year.

Top 10 Fall Potato Producers for 2017

Total U.S. fall potato crop 399,840,000 cwt.    Total U.S. Crop 441,310,000 cwt.


RANK State Production  (hundredweight) Percent of Total 

U.S. Fall Crop

1 Idaho 131,330,000 32.8%
2 Washington 99,000,000 24.8%
3 Wisconsin 29,150,000 7.3%
4 North Dakota 25,160,000 6.3%
5 Colorado 21,530,000 5.4%
6 Oregon 21,400,000 5.4%
7 Minnesota 18,430,000 4.6%
8 Michigan 18,000,000 4.5%
9 Maine 15,040,000 3.8%
10 Nebraska 9,070,000 2.3%
All others 11,750,000 2.9%

Source: USDA-NASS 

2017 Minnesota Crop Production Report 

Fall potato production in Minnesota was 18.4 million hundredweight (cwt.) according to the USDA,  National Agricultural Statistics Service. That is a 9.7 percent increase over 2016.  Planted acres at 46,000 was up 3,000 and harvested acres were up 3,500.

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Check Out These Tips to Help Save on Diesel Fuel

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Recently Commerical Carrier Journal provided some pointers for truckers to use to save fuel while on the road. Some are common sense, some  might not occur to you.

Check out some tips that are obvious. will other may not be so obvious.

Turn off the engine. Drivers should avoid excessive  warm-up times when starting the truck, even for a short time. Look for other  times when drivers have a habit of idling.

Use shore power when it’s available. Many inverters and  auxiliary power units come with a plug-in option that converts incoming current  to DC to charge the batteries, using AC to power climate-control units and/or  in-cab accessories. The truckstop electrification movement to help eliminate  idling has gained steam in the last year, with plug-in options available at many  more parking spaces.

Avoid revving the engine between shifts. Ease into each  new gear, and don’t be in a hurry to climb through them.

Run in your engine’s sweet spot. Once you reach cruising  speed, operating in the peak torque zone gives you optimum horsepower so that  the engine runs most efficiently. It takes only about 200 horsepower to maintain  65 mph.

Minimize air-conditioning use. Running the A/C delivers a  2/10- to 4/10-mpg hit.

Anticipate traffic lights. If you can approach slowly and  avoid a complete stop, it saves fuel and reduces equipment wear.

Maintain an extended following distance. It helps to  prevent unnecessary acceleration due to frequent braking.

Lower your average highway speed. Every mph over 55  equals a 0.1-mpg drop in fuel economy.

Don’t punch the throttle. Gradually put your foot into  it, pretending there’s an egg between the pedal and the floorboard. Use smooth,  steady accelerator inputs to avoid fuel burn spikes.


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Working This Truck Like a Dog to Make it — Bradley Cook

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The strong, but seasonal produce trucking rates off the West Coast sound pretty good, until one starts to consider what it takes to get a Westbound freight haul.   The hard economic times in the USA has taken its toll on many truckers.   Some in trucking report dry freight grossing as little as $2000 from the Mid-west to California.

Bradley Cook  drives a truck for Frank’s Transport, a one-truck operation out of North Miami Beach, FL. recently caught up with him at a Flying J Truck Stop, after delivering a load of juice.  He was hoping to get a load of freight out of Tulsa, OK for the West Coast to pick up a load of produce.

The 35-year-old has been trucking either long haul or locally since 1998, and this is about as tough as he has seen it.

“I’m working this truck like a dog trying to make ends meets,” he says, pointing to the conventional Peterbilt he is driving.   The owner operator he is driving for once had three trucks, but now it is down this single tractor.

It is not easy when outbound dry freight is paying only $1.35 to $1.40 per mile, while eastbound produce loads are grossing about $2.25 per mile, “if you are lucky.  The people paying for the East bound (produce) want to pay you the Westbound rates,” he says, “although they pay the better rates because they have little choice.”

It also does not help that other produce shipping areas often do not pay that well.  He cites per mile rates of out of Florida being $1.25, while Texas loads are averaging about $1.50 per mile.  The high cost of number 2 diesel fuel only makes it worse.

“The price of fuel is so high the produce people and everyone else are relying on the freight charges of 20 years to help make up for it (cost of deliveries),” Bradley says.

Adding to the challenges of hauling produce are the delays in loading and unloading the often occur.

“With produce, I often face delays anywhere from one to eight hours.  The product may still be in fields, even though I’m at the facility on time to load,” Bradley states.  “I am picking  up in California and supposed to deliver in Massachusetts.  If I am late for delivery (because of loading delays), that Massachusetts receiver will not pay full price for that load upon arrival.”

Another primary “beef” with Bradley is dealing with four wheelers, and particularly those driving cars who cut off big rigs.

If a wheeler cuts me off then hits the brakes, I’m going to hit my brakes, but I can’t stop on a dime.  I’ll end up going five truck lengths through that guy’s vehicle,” Bradely states.

In some Western states he notes speed limits on some highways are 80 mph.  “You can cut me off, and I’m going to end up killing you (with my truck, which can’t stop),” he says.

Bradley believes as part of obtaining a driver’s license four wheelers should have to ride in big rig for three weeks to get a better understanding of what it is like to operate an 18 wheeler and “experience the centrifical forces of nature.”

Similar problems exist with four wheelers who tail gate big rigs and when the trucker hits the brakes, if the other driver is not paying close enough attention he can  end up “going through your DOT approved trailer bumper — and die.”





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Retail Produce Prices Drop, But….

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Avocados should be one of the best buys in your local produce department as produce continues to arrive from Mexico and will continue to do so into May.  There’s also Chilean avocados which will be on retail shelves into late March.  California  avocados also are available and will continue well after the imported fruit is no longer available — into September.  Even when California has sole possession of the market, prices should remain reasonable.  The state expects to produce as much as 415 million pounds of avocados this season, 25 percent more than a year ago.

During the last quarter of 2011 the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables actually declined overall by eight percent, but we may not have necessarily have seen the benefits in our retail stores.  Why?  A major reason is the cost of fuel keeps rising to get the product delivered.

That means you may not have noticed the savings, for example, with oranges which had an average price of 93 cents per  pound in January, compared to 98 cents per pound in December.  Another example are tomatoes, which were costing on average $1.54 per pound in January, down a penny from December, but off five cents from the same time a year ago.


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Diesel Prices Highest in Nearly a Year

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According to the Energy Information Administration, which is part of the Department of Energy, U.S. diesel fuel prices are continuing upward.

Truckers are now paying on average $4.051 cents per gallon for diesel fuel, which is 24 cents more per gallon than at the start of the New Year.   This is the highest fuel has been since the spring of 2011.

California, to no one’s surprise, has the highest diesel fuel prices, averaging $4.41 per gallon.  This is higher than the average for the West Coast, riding at $4.326 per gallon.  The average price on the East Coast is $4.134 per gallon.  The mid-west has the “cheapest” diesel fuel, averaging $3.914 per gallon.

At this time a year ago, the national average price per gallon for diesel was 33.5 cents per gallon less.

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