Posts Tagged “lettuce shipments”

Study:  Arizona is 2nd in Shipments of Leaf, Iceberg and Romaine Lettuce

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DSCN0306Although there are lettuce shipments towards the end of the seasons from the Salinas Valley and the Huron area of the San Joaquin Valley, light loadings of the product started late last week from the Yuma district of Arizona as the annual fall transition is underway.

Lettuce volume from the desert is very light and will be increasing right up to Thanksgiving  (November 23rd).

Doubling previous informal estimates, a new study says Arizona’s leafy greens industry delivers $2 billion in annual sales.  The study, by researchers at the University of Arizona’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, estimated a sales contribution of $2 billion for the Arizona leafy greens industry.

“We examined the whole value chain, including on-farm and post-harvest activities to understand the broad scope of the industry’s contribution to the Arizona economy,”Ashley Kerna Bickel, key researcher and contributor to the report, said in a news release.

Called “Arizona Leafy Greens: Economic Contributions of the Industry Cluster,”  the study examined 2015 agricultural cash receipts for on-farm production and post-harvest activities.

The release said the report was funded by the Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee. Authors included Kerna Bickel, Dari Duval and George Frisvold.

For purposes of the study, the leafy greens industry was defined to include on-farm activities and also cooling, cutting, washing, packing, processing, storing and shipping.

In addition to the $2 billion sales figure, the study found:

  • Arizona is the No. 2 producer of lettuce (iceberg, leaf and romaine) nationally;
  • The state’s Yuma County ranks second among U.S. counties in harvested lettuce and spinach acreage;
  • From late November to mid-March, Arizona supplies 80 percent of the nation’s lettuce, with an average of 1 billion pounds of lettuce shipped per month;
  • Leafy greens have accounted for an average of 17 percent of the state’s total agricultural receipts each year since 2010;
  • Nearly 27,000 individuals were employed either directly or indirectly by the Arizona leafy greens industry in 2015, with 16.9 million hired labor hours needed for on-farm operations alone; and
  • The leafy greens industry’s total contribution to Arizona’s gross state product was nearly $1.2 billion in 2015.

While Yuma vegetable shipments are too few to count right now, Arizona melon shipments (cantaloupe and honeydew) are totalling over 250 loads per week.


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Western Produce Shipments: Here’s Several Loading Opportunties

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FDSCN9022rom Nogales to California, the Northwest and Colorado, here are some springtime loading opportunities with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Nogales Crossings

While springtime crossings of imported Mexican vegetables is past its peak, there are about 1500 truck loads of watermelons being loaded per week, with around 500 truck loads of vine ripe tomatoes available.  There’s much less volume with squash, peppers and some other vegetables.  Mexican grape loadings should be available in very light volume starting next week, with decent loading opportunities not coming until around the second week of May.

Mexican watermelon and tomato shipments – grossing about $3200 to Chicago.

California Produce Shipments

With lettuce volume crashing in the Imperial Valley and the Yuma area, lettuce loadings have made the seasonal shift to the Huron district on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley.  Huron is moving around 650 loads of head lettuce a week, accounting for nearly 87 percent of the state’s lettuce shipments right now.  Huron will continue well into May before giving away to California coastal shipping areas.

In fact, Santa Maria Valley has very light  loadings of lettuce, celery, cauliflower, broccoli and other vegetables.  Heaviest Santa Maria volume is with strawberries,  a little over 300 loads per week.  Strawberry loadings in California are heaviest out of Ventura County, around 500 loads a week.  Santa Maria could be a little frustrating this season. Although new crops are just starting, weather related shipping gaps are seen.

In Kern County around Bakersfield, about 375 truck load equivalents are being loaded weekly.  The new crop of stone fruit should have its first pickings the week of April 24th.

Huron lettuce – grossing about $6000 to New York City.

Potato Shipments

As always, Idaho leads potato volume accounting for nearly 1900 truck load equivalents a week, although a substantial amount of this is moving by rail…..Colorado’s San Luis Valley come next in volume averaging around 750 loads a week.  The Columbia Basin in southern Washington and adjacent Umatillin Basin in Northern Oregon are shipping about 60 percent of Colorado’s volume.

Twin Falls, ID area potatoes – grossing about $5100 to Atlanta.



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California Spring Produce Shipments will be Erratic for Weeks

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DSCN8983As the month of March progresses, produce shippers will be transitioning to the coastal valleys of California as well as the Huron district on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.  However, for now primary vegetables shipments continue from the desert regions of California and Arizona.  But shipping gapes in the weeks ahead are certain.

Loadings for some early season cauliflower and broccoli should start from the Salinas Valley in mid-March.  Meanwhile desert lettuce shipments will shift to Huron (San Joaquin Valley) by the end of March.  However it be early April before lettuce and leaf items are shipped from Salinas.  This is when the shipping gaps will start and the issues will continue at least until May.

A couple of hours drive to the south a very similar scenario is seen in Santa Maria.  The broccoli and cauliflower currently being harvested has quality issues due to relentless recent rains.

Quality is expected to gradually improve along with volume throughout March, but yields and loadings will be down along with supply gaps.

Vegetable shipments from the California and Arizona deserts should finish during the third week of  March.

In Southern California, rains hit strawberry fields and volume is slowly improving, but still struggling to get back to normal.  Decent strawberry shipments are expected by the third week of March from Ventura County.  While Southern California strawberries are working to regain good volume, shipments from Florida and Mexico are starting to decline.  Both those areas of origin are well above their shipping levels compared to the same time in 2016.

Florida and Mexico had a combined volume of about 36 million cartons compared to about half that in late February 2016.  For the past two years, those two production areas have combined to ship around 50 million trays to U.S. markets.

In late February, California had shipped just 3 million crates compared to the close to 200 million it typically ships in a calendar year.

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California Shipments: An Update from Citrus to Vegetables

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DSCN7470California navel orange shipments are winding down for the season as loadings of Valencias are on the horizon.  Meanwhile, Salinas Valley inconsistent vegetable shipments are enough to drive one nuts!

Shipments of California navel oranges from the San Joaquin Valley are is entering its home stretch, and volume is great than originally expected.  Meanwhile, shipping gaps with Salinas Valley lettuce are occurring as predicted.

Orange shipments could surpass the 86 million cartons the National Agricultural Statistics Service predicted for the 2015-16 season.

As it is, an 86-million carton haul would be a more than 8 percent increase from last year’s 76 million cartons harvested.  This would come with at least 2,000 fewer acres of bearing trees in the ground.

The amount of fruit that has been shipped as fresh and not diverted to juice — have consistently scored above 80 percent all season.

Shipments should continue through June.

Meanwhile, some Valencia orange shippers are beginning to pick what is expected to be a 21 million-carton crop as packing houses are shipping exports.  Most shipments will begin after navels are completed.  California had about 20 million cartons of Valencias last year.  This was a little more than half the 39 million cartons produced in 2001-02 season.

Southern California orange shipments from grossing about $5300 to Atlanta.

Bell Pepper Shipments

Meanwhile bell pepper shipments have hit stride in the California desert from the Coachella Valley.  Red, green and yellow peppers should be shipping into June, before loadings will shift to the Selma, CA area.

Lettuce Shipments

Just when really good vegetable volume should be building in the Salinas Valley, the leading items  — various types of lettuce — are experiencing serious shipping gaps.  The cause is weather, ranging from heat in the mid 90s, to ice on the product due to cold nights, plus winds up to 40 mph.

The only sure thing from now until we get into June, is much lighter volume than normal, plus quality issues.  Just make sure you and your receiver know what’s being placed in the truck.

California Cherry Shipments

Reports are coming in from heavy rains that hit the California cherry crop a week ago.  Anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of the of the remaining shipments will be knocked out.

The good news is loadings  were actually up over last year in California through May 7th.   Around 23 million pounds were shipped the week ending May 7th, up from 10.9 million pounds from last year in the same week.

Season-to-date, about 32 million pounds had been shipped, up from 15.5 million pounds in 2015.

California cherry shipments are expected to be finished by around May 20th.

San Joaquin Valley cherries and vegetables – grossing about $4500 to Chicago.

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Strawberry Shipping Update; Group Urges 8 Berries a Day

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DSCN7169A handful of storms that have hit drought-stricken California this winter has put a damper on overall California strawberry shipments to date.

With the week ending March 5, 6.7 million trays of strawberries had been shipped.  That was down significantly from the 12.9 million trays shipped at the same time last year.  However, this year’s volume for that week was about 1 million trays more than the projected.

Despite the slow shipments in January, volume is increasing fast, particularly out of Oxnard.  Those Ventura County loadings should continue until about mid-May.

Ventura County celery, berries, and lettuce shipments – grossing about $4000 to Chicago.

Strawberry Health Benefits Promoted

The California Strawberry Commission is promoting consumption of eight strawberries a day, citing research that finds it may aid cognitive function, among other health benefits.

The MIND diet — short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay — lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s as much as 53% in rigorous adherents and about 35% in those who follow it moderately well, according to a Rush University Medical Center study.

Berries are the only fruit specified for inclusion in the MIND diet, and the study’s authors have noted cognitive benefits from consumption of strawberries and blueberries.

The study results were published last September in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Separately, strawberries and other berries have been named by the American Diabetes Association as among the top 10 superfoods for a diabetes meal plan because of their low-sugar, vitamin, antioxidant and fiber content.

Eight medium strawberries equal about one cup a day and total 45 calories. Vitamin C content per serving exceeds that of oranges, according to the commission, and the fruit provides folate, potassium, three grams of fiber and seven grams of sugar.


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Shipping Update: Desert Veg, Chilean Grapes, and Apples

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DSCN7157The roller coaster ride of Western desert lettuce volume has steadied in recent weeks.   More consistent loading opportunities will hopefully continue the rest of the season from Yuma and the Imperial Valley.

Lettuce shipments should remain in good volume until around April 1st, before a seasonal decline ends the season by mid April.  At this point lettuce shipments will shift to Huron, CA for about three weeks before heading into the Salinas spring season.

Yuma lettuce and other vegetables – grossing about $4700 to Atlanta.

Chilean Fruit Imports

Central Chile has recently had relative humidity levels not seen in many years, leading to further losses for table grape growers.  Recent rains have resulted in losses of 30 percent for Flames (red grapes) and Superiors (green grapes) in the area.  Three years ago when this happened there was a lof of rot with grapes.

Normally there would be humidity of 20-40 perecent, instead of  80 percent.

This means a large amount of fruit will not meet export standards for lacking quality standards.

Apple Shipments

About 75.3 million bushels of U.S.-grown fresh-market apples had yet to be shipped as of February 1, 21 percent less than last year at the same time.

The February total was also one percent lower than the five-year average, according to the February Market News report from the Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple Association.

Washington accounted for 64.9 million bushels of the February 1 apples remaining in storage.  New York had 4.2 million bushels, Michigan 3.4 million bushels and Pennsylvania 1.1 million bushels.

Yakima Valley apples – grossing about $3700 to Chicago.

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Selected Produce Shipments from Across the Country

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DSCN6956 Produce shipments should start returning to more normal movement now that we are past the holidays and receivers are starting to replenish their stocks.  Here’s a look at produce shipping from several areas around the country.

Western Lettuce Shipments

Lettuce shipments, led by Iceberg and romaine are originating primarily out of the Yuma district of Arizona.  Other leading items are celery, broccoli and cauliflower, although cold weather has cut into volume.  Loadings are much lighter from the California desert, primarily from the Imperial Valley, Coachella Valley and Palo Verde.

Apple Shipments

Washington’s Yakima and Wenatchee valleys are averaging bout 2500 truckloads per week.  New York state, led by the Hudson Valley, is shipping about 250 truckloads weekly.  Michigan is third in volume about 175 trucks per week.

Washington apple shipments – grossing about $4500 to Dallas.

Texas Produce Shipments

Overall, it’s still relatively light for produce items here.  This is light to moderate shipments of grapefruit and oranges from the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  The is better volume of Mexican tropical fruits and vegetables crossing the border.

South Texas citrus and Mexican produce freight rates were up 15 to 20 percent during the holidays, depending on the destination; for example, grossing about $2900 to Atlanta.  Rates could drop with the holidays past us.

East Coast Produce Shipments

Pretty slim pickin’s over all.  If you’re coming out of Florida with a partial load, there’s very light volume of cabbage and greens being shipped from Southern Georgia…Eastern North Carolinas is loading sweet potatoes in moderate volume….Dry onion shipments are coming out of Orange County, NY.  Partial loads of cabbage are coming out of central and western New York.  Apples are available from the Hudson Valley, Champlain Valley, plus central and western areas….Aroostrock County, Maine has light volume with potatoes.

North Carolina sweet potato shipments – grossing about $3000 to Boston.




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California Lettuce Quality, Volume is Affecting Produce Rates

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DSCN1996+1Taking a look at Salinas Valley vegetable shipments this summer and you get a good hint at one reason why California produce have been less than stellar.

California’s coastal valleys near Santa Maria and Salinas have experienced unusually warm nights all summer long, which has resulted in some hollow hearts and other issues that basically reduced Iceberg and other varieties of lettuce volume and the weight of each head.  Less tonnage per acre has resulted in a demand-exceeds-supply situation, with Iceberg lettuce prices topping $20 per carton.

The lack of lettuce quality is closer to what you normally find in late September or October.  The lighter amount of lettuce shipments could continue until the end of the coastal valley deals in mid- to late October.  In fact, improvements may not come until the transition to Huron in the San Joaquin Valley in the fall.   However, many grower-shippers won’t be planting lettuce in Huron this fall because of the California drought.

The shortage appears to be mostly with various types of lettuce category, while supplies of broccoli, cauliflower and most of the other staple vegetable volumes are adequate.

Something else to consider is El Niño.  Meteorologists studying the Pacific Ocean say the warm water patterns are surfacing from the equator to much farther north off the California coast which may mean very heavy fall and winter rains.  If  this weather pattern becomes a reality many low lying produce fields could become flooded, cutting into acreage and shipments.

Most are predicting that if the El Niño conditions that currently exist do bring huge amounts of rain, they will probably start in late September, with the brunt of the storms hitting from December through February.  If that occurs, produce shipments could get cut short, and next season growers would have to delay planting in many fields.  Enough speculation.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Salinas Valley vegetables – grossing about $4600 to Chicago; $6700 to New York City.


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Volume Continues to Build from California’s Coastal Areas

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California produce shipments

DSCN4408+1With the Huron shipping district in the San Joaquin Valley finished, the primary suppliers of the nation’s vegetable row crops are the Salinas and Santa Maria valleys.

These two areas on California’s coast are shipping  Iceberg lettuce, all the mixed and specialty lettuces, cauliflower, broccoli and celery, plus dozens of other items in smaller volumes.  California now has over 500 truckloads of head lettuce shipments weekly, mostly out of Salinas.

About the best thing for produce truckers this time of the year in California is fewer production areas, making it easier to get full loads due to the increased volume, plus a lot of product typically is loaded at one dock.  This certainly beats wintertime when mulitple pick ups can start in Central or Southern California and extend to Coachella, the Imperial Valley and Yuma – and perhaps even Nogales.  Not good.

Over the next two to three months California will be in its peak strawberry shipping period with 6 million to 7 million trays or more being shipped each week.

While Ventura County strawberries are in a seasonal decline, the Santa Maria district is shipping over 500 truckloads per week.  Strawberry shipments are building from the Watsonville district, and will soon surpass Santa Maria in volume.

Produce Rates

Salinas Valley vegetables and berries – grossing about $4300 to Dallas; $7100 to New York City.

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Desert Shipping Gaps Start after Freeze in CA-AZ

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DSCN1838+1Desert vegetable shipping gaps have been expected for several weeks, and recent freezes appears to be making it even more of a sure thing.

Light freezes started December 26th, but the heaviest frosts started hitting vegetable fields in the Imperial Valley of California and the Yuma, AZ area December 29th.

Frost conditions are tightening lettuce shipments in January.  Growers are losing up to  40 percent of their harvests each day as long as they wait for the fields to thaw out.

In the Coachella Valley, temperatures ranged from 30 to 32 degrees at hillside operations, but plunged to 22 to 25 degrees on the valley floor.  The Yuma area also had a temperature drop into the 20s.

The cold snap is  affecting lettuce and leaf items including romaine and iceberg; green leaf and red leaf lettuce; butter lettuce; and spinach.

It is difficult to predict whether loadings will be available from one day to the next as shipping gaps have started.

Before the freezes, there was a broad consensus that desert vegetables were two to three weeks ahead of normal production due to the warm weather pattern that’s persisted in California throughout 2014.
Produce shipments can be unpredictable anytime of year, but never more so than in winter.
Desert vegetables – grossing about $4400 to Chicago.
(Note:  Our 12/31 post was about possible damaging freezes hitting the citrus crop in the San Joaquin Valley.  The crop dodged the proverbial bullet, so citrus shipments should be normal this season — unless Mother Nature decides to take another shot at it.)

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