Mushroom 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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The 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.
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 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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The 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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Florida 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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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.
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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Imported 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.
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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Florida citrus losses are reported the worst in 75 years between Hurricane Irma and citrus greening, plus nearly two dozen Florida counties are declared disaster areas.
by Malena Carollo, Tampa Bay Times
After a decade of fighting a losing battle against a tree-killing disease (citrus greening) and declining yields, growers thought this year’s abundant crop promised a turnaround. Then, just weeks before harvest, Hurricane Irma hit.
“This was a real punch in the face,” said Andrew Meadows, spokesperson for citrus trade organization Florida Citrus Mutual.
Overcome by almost $800 million in losses from the hurricane, the state’s citrus industry is suddenly facing its lowest orange yield in 75 years, far worse than forecasts expected just a couple of months ago.
Although damage is still being assessed, the latest numbers released by the state put expected losses at roughly $761 million. Early estimates suggest that this year’s crop will be the single lowest yield since 1942.
To read the rest of the story, please go to: Tampa Bay Times
19 Florida Counties Declared Disaster Areas
A natural disaster declaration for 19 Florida counties issued by the USDA acknowledges widespread damage by Hurricane Irma.
As a result of the declaration farmers and ranchers in those areas are able to seek support, including emergency loans, from the Farm Service Agency, according to a news release.
“I thank U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for taking action to support Florida’s farmers and ranchers still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Irma, Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam said in the release. Our preliminary estimates peg the total damage at more than $2.5 billion, but it’s important to recognize that the damage is still unfolding.
“The disaster declaration provides much needed support, and I will continue working with (Florida Gov. Rick Scott) and our leaders in Washington to get Florida agriculture the relief it needs to rebuild,” Putnam said.
The USDA released its first citrus crop estimate recently, but industry members say the department grossly understated the extent of the damage from Irma.
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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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While Salinas Valley veggie shipments have been hindered due to weather related issues, it may pale in comparison to Florida oranges after Hurricane Irma. Also, imported Japanese persimmons to be become a reality.
Salinas Valley vegetable shipments leading up to Labor Day were paired back because of hot weather and the effects are still being felt nearly two weeks later. When the temperature surpasses 90 degrees F. it becomes to hot for field workers, not to mention quality issues come into focus. The result has been lighter-than-normal loadings of leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower. Caution is urged when loading, as produce haulers should look for potential heat related quality problems.
Florida Citrus vs. Irma
The wrath of Hurricane Irma is bound to be bad news for Florida citrus, especially orange that already is reeling from declining production due to citrus greening. Florida accounts for 56 percent of U.S. citrus production and is the number one state for oranges, although the vast majority goes for processing. Still, we’re talking about Florida’s total production for oranges in 2015 was valued at $1.17 billion.
Other top produce crops threatened by Irma are tomatoes, and green beans, although neither are in peak season. Severe citrus crop losses seen for product exposed to hurricane force winds exceeding 85 mph.
by USDA APHIS
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is publishing a final rule allowing the importation of fresh persimmon with calyxes (a plant part protecting the flower) from Japan.
APHIS scientists prepared a pest risk analysis and determined that commercial shipments of persimmons with calyxes produced under a systems approach can safely be imported into the continental United States. The systems approach includes requirements for packing house registration, orchard monitoring and control of pests, fruit culling, biometric sampling, a phytosanitary certificate with additional declaration, port of entry inspection and traceback. These measures will protect our country against the introduction of plant pests.
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