Posts Tagged “Hurricane Irma”

Florida Avocado Shipments Should Rebound this Season

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Normal Florida avocado shipments have not been seen since 2017 and optimism abounds 2019 is the year of rebound for this tropical fruit.

Brooks Tropicals Inc. of Homes reports in 2017 it was Hurricane Irma which devastated the Florida avocado crop and 2018 the fruit was still recuperating.

Southern Florida, where avocados are the Miami-Dade area’s second largest crop, has had excellent weather with warm temperatures and adequate rains. The season for Florida avocados typically begins in June and continues until February or March.

M&M Farm Inc. of Miami expects to grow and ship around 800,000 bushels this season. In 2018 due to the previous-year hurricane and declining (laurel wilt) acreage, the entire Florida avocado industry only shipped about 500,00 bushels.

Limeco LLC of Princeton, FL recently launched its avocado season. The company notes the 2018-19 crop was only about 60 percent of normal, due to the after-effects of the 2017 storms.

Unity Groves of Homestead, FL is looking forward to normal avocado shipments this season as their avocado trees have rebound from the adverse effects of Hurricane Irma in 2017.

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Citrus Shipment Estimates for California and Texas are Reduced; California Garlic Update

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A355California and Texas orange shipping estimates have been lowered by the USDA….Meanwhile California garlic loadings are off to a good start.

The California shipments are pegged at 44 million boxes, down 1 percent from the USDA’s June projection.  Texas orange shipments of 1.88 million boxes, are down 11 percent from June.

The California valencias shipping forecast has been lowered 5 percent to 9 million boxes, on par with last season.

The forecast for California navel shipments remain steady at 35 million boxes, which is down 11 percent from the 2016-17 season.

While USDA lowered its estimate for Texas orange shipments, 1.88 million boxes still represents a 37 percent gain from last season.

The Florida orange shipping forecast of 44.95 million boxes was unchanged from the previous month, as June was the final update of the year.

In September, Hurricane Irma devastated citrus groves throughout the state.  In the 2016-17 season, Florida shipped 68.85 million boxes of oranges.

The estimate for early, midseason and navel varieties was 18.95 million boxes, down 43 percent from the 2016-17 season.

The Florida valencia shipping forecast was 26 million boxes, down 27 percent from 2016-17.


USDA estimates 2017-18 grapefruit shipments at 12.86 million boxes, down 7 percent from last month and down 26 percent from 2016-17.

Texas shipments are projected at 4.8 million boxes, 16 percent lower than the June estimate, but on par with last season.

Estimates for Florida and California were 3.88 million boxes and 4 million boxes, respectively. The projections have not changed since June, but the numbers represent a 9 percent drop from 2016-17 for California and a 50 percent drop for Florida.

Other Citrus

California is expected to ship 20 million boxes of mandarins and tangerines, down 5 percent from the June estimate and down 16 percent from the 2016-17 season.

The volume forecast for Florida is unchanged from last month — at 750,000 boxes — but down 54 percent from last year.

USDA estimates total lemon shipments at 21.8 million boxes, the same as June but down 2 percent from 2017-18.

Garlic Shipments

The domestic garlic crop has gotten off to a good start, and expectations are high for the 2018 season.  Christopher Rancy of Gilroy, CA expects to ship over 100 million pounds of garlic this season.  I it the largest crop the shipper has had in decades.

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Fewer Florida Avocado Shipments are Coming This Year

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TkOk18bThanks to Hurricane Irma there will be a significant drop in Florida avocado shipments this season.  As much as 60 percent of the volume may have been lost.

Most shipments will be get underway during the first half of June.  Caution is recommended to Florida avocado haulers to be aware of possible wind scarring of the fruit and make sure their receivers are aware of it.  However, most shippers are contending fruit quality overall is good.

Brooks Tropicals of Homestead, FL points out avocado trees have shallow roots and were hit hard by the storm.

J&C Tropicals of Miami, FL expects volume to be slashed by roughly 50 percent because of the September storm that ravaged agriculture across the state.

Unity Groves Corp. of Homestead, FL may have lost 50 to 60 percent of its normal crop, with about 25 percent of its avocado trees were toppled by the winds/  The tree will be out of circulation for 2 to 3 years.  The company started shipping at the beginning of June and has increased its avocado acreage about 15 percent.

New Limeco of Princeton, FL is just starting to ship with the crop about two weeks behind last season.  Apparently demand is so high in South Florida for the first pickings of avocados, that few rarely get out of the county. By mid- to late June there are higher volumes with much wider distribution.

About 10 percent of Florida avocado acreage has been lost to laurel wilt since 2012, with diseased trees being removed and adjacent trees being taken out as well to try and slow the spread of the disease. The vector is the ambrosia beetle.  Hurricane Irma likely exacerbated the effects of laurel wilt.

The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate also continues to affect produce companies across the country as some shippers say the requirements have made transportation more complicated and more costly.

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Mushroom Shipments Should Improve, But Florida Citrus has More Bad News

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AA11Mushroom shipments look good for the first quarter of 2018, which will be an improvement, at least for some areas of the country….Meanwhile, the forecast for Florida citrus shipments takes another hit.

Shipments of mushrooms from Texas and Florida should be better this year as the region has recovered from hurricane damage last fall.  While mushrooms are grown indoors, production still depends on the quality of compost, which is grown outside.

As long as growers don’t have to deal with frozen compost, a relatively mild fall has led to improved conditions.   At the same time companies such as Oakshire Mushroom Farm of Kennett Square, PA, which markets mushrooms under the Dole label, see adequate labor as a continuing problem, like other operations, because mushrooms are a very labor-intense crop.

Monterey Mushrooms Inc. of Watsonville, CA also anticipates an good crop for early 2018.  The company has 10 farms strategically located around the United States and Mexico and it  makes its own compost.

White mushrooms still constitute most mushroom shipments, but brown mushrooms continue to gain.  Ten years or more ago, white mushrooms represented over 90 percent of shipments.  That has now shrunk to about  70 percent, because baby portabellas are still increasing in popularity.  Portabellas have been fairly stable, accounting for around  6 to 7 percent of total volume.  Specialty mushrooms, particularly shiitake and oyster, also are gaining in volume. 

Florida Citrus Shipments

45 million boxes of oranges from Florida are predicted to be shipped, down 2 percent from the USDA January forecast.

The 2017-18 crop will be the smallest in over 75 years, assuming the estimate is accurate.   Hurricane Irma devastated much of the production in the state when the storm hit last September, compounding the low production numbers caused by citrus greening disease.

The current crop projection is off 35 percent from the 2016-17 season.

The forecast for valencias is now 26 million boxes, down 4 percent from the January estimate.The projections for non-valencia oranges and grapefruit are unchanged at 19 million boxes and 4.65 million boxes, respectively.

Before the hurricane, private estimates suggested Florida was set to produce 75 million boxes of oranges this season.

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Latest Shipping Estimate for Florida Citrus Remains Unchanged; Vidalia Onions

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DSCN0412The USDA  sees in it latest estimate Florida citrus remaining on schedule to ship 46 million boxes this season….Meanwhile Vidalia onions are in the ground for the season starting in April.

That estimate is a 33 percent plunge from the 2016-17 shipping season, but is unchanged from the December estimate, a first for this season.

The Florida citrus industry took a hammering from Hurricane Irma, which stripped fruit from trees and also stressed many to the point that growers expected increased fruit drop would happen throughout the season. Some trees were uprooted entirely, and others were damaged by standing water in the days after the storm.

The USDA estimate calls for 19 million boxes of early, midseason and navel varieties (down 42 percent from 2016-17) and 27 million boxes of valencias (down 24 percent).

Florida continues to face its lowest citrus forecast in more than 75 years.

Florida’s famous citrus industry and its growers continue to struggle with the unprecedented damage caused by Hurricane Irma and this damage, combined with the cumulative impacts of citrus greening, leaves Florida’s growers in desperate need of government support.  Industry officials continue to work with Florida Governor Rick Scott and leaders in Washington to get Florida’s growers the relief they need to rebuild and replant.

The USDA estimate for California citrus was also unchanged from December, with the state projected to ship 35 million boxes of navel oranges and 11 million boxes of valencias.  Texas is expected to ship 1.83 million boxes of oranges, up 11 percent from last month’s forecast and up 34 percent from the 2016-17 season.

Florida citrus – grossing about $3200 to New York City.

Vidalia Onions

The Vidalia onion district in Southeastern Georgia accounts for about 22 percent of the total sweet onion shipments in the United States.  The product is in the ground and should be available for loading in April.  Georgia cold and even freezing weather can be okay with planted onions in the ground, as long is the temperature doesn’t plunge to low for too many hours.  There will be more information in the coming weeks.

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Florida Strawberry Shipments Should be Picking Up in January

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TK4Florida strawberry shipments got off to a good start this season and while volume is currently down, this should change once we get into the New Year.

As of December 9th, loadings had totaled 1.258 million 12-pound cartons, up from 1.075 million cartons the same time a year ago.

While some plastic covering for the plants had to be replaced, strawberries were unaffected by Hurricane Irma last September.  The fruit also came through a cold spell in the middle of December in good shape.  However, that colder weather has resulted in fewer shipments the last half of December, but volume to return more to normal as we progress into January.

Because of  newer strawberry varieties and planting of plugs there was more volume in November than there used to be.  Fruit was being shipped in at the start of November this season instead of after Thanksgiving as in the past.  Florida strawberry shipment for the fresh market should continue through March.

Florida strawberry shipments in calendar year 2016 totaled 18.3 million 12-pound cartons, down slightly from 19.2 million cartons in 2015 but way up from 11.5 million cartons in 2010, according to the USDA.  Florida strawberry shipments typically peak in February and March, with those two months accounting for 32 and 37 percent of annual shipments, respectively.

In 2016, December accounted for 21 percent of total shipments and January had a 9 percent share of total annual shipments.

Additionally, in 2016, Florida strawberry acreage totaled 10,800 planted acres and 10,700 harvested acres of strawberries.

Each year Easter provides a big demand for strawberries.  In 2018, Easter will fall on April 1st, instead of April 16th as it did in 2017.  Florida should still have good supplies of strawberries to ship ahead of the Easter observance.

Wish Farms of Plant City, FL accounts for about 17 to 18 percent of the total strawberry acreage.




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Florida Navel Shipping Estimate is Once Again Lowered

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DSCN0036The mid-season, and navel orange shipments forecast for Florida is now at 19 million boxes, down 10 percent from November and off 42  percent from a year ago.

The report from December 12th places the Florida orange forecast at 46 million 90-pound boxes, down 8 percent the November estimate and 33 percent lower than last season’s final shipments.

Florida’s valencia orange forecast, at 27 million boxes, is 7 percent lower than November and 24 percent down from last season, according to the USDA.

Florida grapefruit production was estimated at 4.65 million (85-pound) boxes, unchanged from November but down 40 percent from last season    Now three months after Hurricane Irma, the crop shipping forecast reductions come as the Florida citrus industry seeks federal emergency funding to support growers hurt by the hurricane.

“This second reduction underscores the dire need for federal disaster assistance,” Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, said in a news release.  “Florida citrus growers are making decisions on next season’s crop now and they need to know they have the support necessary to keep this American icon alive.”

In October, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services estimated that growers suffered more than $760 million in damages due to Hurricane Irma.

“This is exactly what we thought would happen as the true damage begins to rear its ugly head in the groves across Florida,” said Michael Sparks, executive vice president and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual.  “Unfortunately the situation is going to get worse before it gets better; we think the actual size of the 2017-2018 crop will not be known until the season is over and all the fruit is picked”

Sparks said the latest estimates are evidence that Congress needs to pass a citrus relief package so Florida growers can rebuild.

In the December crop production report, California and Texas orange production forecasts were carried forward from November and were not changed, the USDA said.

Florida’s total orange shipments are still slightly ahead of California. According to the December crop estimate, Florida will produce 2.07 million tons of oranges in 2017-18, slightly more than the 1.84 million tons of oranges forecast in California.

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Shipping Updates: Florida Tomatoes are Rebounding; Rates Up for Western U.S. Potatoes

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DSCN0190Florida tomato volume is rebounding as the recovery from Hurricane Irma continues.  Meanwhile, double digit freights on potatoes from some states in the Western U.S. are occurring.

Florida tomato shipments remain much lighter than normal thanks to Hurricane Irma last fall, that is fixing to change.  Volume is gradually coming back as the replantings mature, but it will be around Christmas or perhaps early January before volumes return to normal.  Irma dumped a ton of water of some fields, so use caution loading.  There’s a chance of bacterial and general quality problems with some product, until a little later in the season.

North American Potato Shipping Update

North American fall potato shipments in the most recent USDA update is pegged 505 million cwt. (per hundredweight), down 1 percent from last year.  Canadian growers harvested 106 million cwt., up slightly from 2016, and U.S. growers are expected to produce 399 million cwt., down 2 percent from 2016.  U.S. growers planted 906,500 acres, down from 923,800 in 2016, and harvested 900,600 acres, off from 909,600 in 2016.

Canadian growers planted 345,800 acres and harvested 342,200, both amounts similar to the previous crop.  The USDA reported yields per acre at 443 cwt. for growers in the U.S. and at 309 cwt. for growers in Canada.

Potato shipments for Christmas are getting underway and truck rates from both Idaho and Colorado have increased 10 to 20 percent to many markets.  Wisconsin, which has the lowest volume of the three states, is not experiencing volatility in rates.  Idaho is shipping moving nearly 1700 truckload equivalents of spuds a week, although a significant amount of this is going by rail.  Colorado is shipping around 750 truckloads per week, while Wisconsin is loading about 400 truckloads.  The Columbia Basin and Umatilla Basin on the Washington/Oregon border has similar volume  (about 350 loads) to Colorado  and rates have generally went up 10 to 15 percent recently.

Twin Falls area Idaho potatoes – grossing about $6300 to New York City.

San Luis Valley Colorado potatoes – grossing about $2000 to Dallas.

Stevens Point, Wisconsin area potatoes – grossing about  $3300 to Atlanta.

Washington’s Columbian Basin potatoes – grossing bout $5100 to Chicago.


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Branch is Excited Heading into Another Successful Leafy Vegetable Season

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BranchBy Branch

South Bay, FL  —  Branch: A Family of Farms, the country’s largest distributor of sweet corn, is thankful that their crops were not impacted by Hurricane Irma and they are excited about the many new varieties that they will be offering as they enter into another leaf season.

Branch Farms grows and ships a full assortment of leafy vegetables including; escarole, endive, Chinese cabbage, green and red leaf lettuce, kale, butter, Bibb, Boston, romaine lettuce, cilantro and also Italian and plain parsley.

This winter’s forecast is predicted to be much cooler, which are ideal growing conditions for leafy greens in Florida. They are forecasting a strong season due to overall crop outlook as well as the improvements in varietal development and increased interest in local programs.

“We are extremely grateful to have escaped major damage unlike others who were impacted by the hurricane,” says Brett Bergmann, president of Branch.  “As we look ahead to our leafy vegetable season, we expect to see increased demand due to excitement around our regional offerings, as well as advantages for our customers in freshness and overall delivered cost.”

Branch continues to invest in trialing new varieties to find better offerings each season, and will have multiple new varieties rolling out for the 2017 and 2018 season. The primary goal of the research and development of these varieties is to continue to improve upon the eating experience for the consumer, as well as improve upon how varieties perform in the Southern climates. They are especially excited about a new Endive variety that is in production this season. When trialed, they discovered this variety has shown better tolerance to heat and humid growing conditions, allowing their farmers to grow and pack a more superior product.  Branch is also experimenting with a new pack on Cilantro, Curly and Plain Parsley. They plan to trial this in 2-3 markets this season and anticipate a wider expansion in the 2018 – 2019 season.


About Branch

Since 1957, our founding principles still drive us at Branch: integrity, quality, service – a commitment to our industry and the sustainability of our environment. As a family owned and operated business, we are a premier grower, packer, shipper of sweet corn in the United States also offering our customers green beans, leafy greens, radishes and celery.

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Imports: Chilean Blueberries Coming Soon; More Citrus Arrivals are Expected

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DSCN3254+1Imported Chilean blueberries begin arriving this month.  Meanwhile, citrus imports from Mexico and Brazil are expected to fill a void of available Florida citrus this season.

Chilean blueberry production is down slightly from last season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean fewer berries arriving by boat at U.S. ports.  The South American country is the largest producer of blueberries in the Southern Hemisphere, exporting a total of 103,000 tons in 2016-17.   Of that amount, 65.7 percent, or 67,707 ton was exported to North America, which is the largest global market of Chilean “blues.”

For the 2017-18 shipping season, Chile’s fresh export volume is predicted to be at 101,700 tons.

Chilean blueberry shipments should be back on schedule this year, with the peak season running from mid-December through February.   The country had an unusally early start in 2016.

Shipments on ocean vessels should begin in late November, and ramping up in December.

Early arrivals are shipped by air because of the lack of fruit volume to fill the large shipping containers used by ocean-going vessels.

Citrus Imports

The majority of oranges imported to Florida arrive from Brazil and Mexico, and that total volume is projected to surpass what is grown in the hurricane-damaged Sunshine State this season.

Last season, Brazil has accounted for 46 percent of the state’s orange imports, followed by 44 percent from Mexico.  Costa Rica and Belize are among the other countries supplying citrus.  Most grapefruit imported into Florida comes from California and Texas.

The Florida Citrus Commission has approved an adjusted $17.8 million budget that takes into account an increase in imports that will help cover crops lost in September to Hurricane Irma.

The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has projected a preliminary $2.5 billion impact to Florida’s agriculture industry from Irma, with estimated losses to the citrus industry at $761 million.

Even before Irma, the industry had suffered steady declines in production because of deadly citrus-greening disease.

The Florida Department of Citrus projects its revenue will come from nearly 59.3 million boxes of Florida citrus and 65 million boxes of imports.

Oranges will account for 53.7 million of the taxed boxes from Florida and 63.95 million of the imported boxes.


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