Posts Tagged “North Carolina”

North Carolina Sweet Potatoes Dominate Shipments the Year-Around

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More than 13,000 refrigerated truckloads of North Carolina’s sweet potatoes are shipped each season.

With big volume every month of the year, North Carolina sweet potato growers easily account for the biggest share of orange vegetable supply. In 2020, North Carolina accounted for about two-thirds of total U.S. sweet potato truck shipments reported by the USDA, followed in volume by Mississippi (16%), California (11%) and Louisiana (6%).

North Carolina’s harvested sweet potato area in 2021 was 104,700 acres, producing yields of 175 cwt per acre and total production of 18.32 million.

According to USDA shipment numbers from 2021, November is the top month for North Carolina sweet potatoes, accounting for 11.3% of total crop movement that year.

The percentage of the total North Carolina sweet potato crop shipped, by month, in 2021, according to the USDA:

  • January: 8.5%
  • February: 9.2%
  • March: 10.5%
  • April: 9.1%
  • May: 10.6%
  • June: 8.5%
  • July: 5.8%
  • August: 4.7%
  • September: 5.6%
  • October:7.2%
  • November: 11.3%
  • December: 8.6%

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Haul Produce Update on NC, Georgia, Pennsylvania

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DSCN0152North Carolina is shipping light to moderate amounts of  greens ranging from cilantro to kale, plus cabbage.  These items handle the colder weather better than a lot of other vegetables which would normally be shipping now, but are up to two weeks behind schedule.

In mid June there should be loadings of veggies such as sweet corn, bell peppers, and tomatoes, among others. 

North Carolina continues, pretty much on a year around, to ship sweet potatoes.

Georgia Vegetables

The Georgia Vidalia onion shipping season started out as a disaster due to disease problems caused by weather factors.  Now Mother Nature has since shined on Southeastern Georgia, and suddenly, shippers have more onions than they know what to do with.  The crop is now past the disease problems, quality is good, and shippers are shipping like crazy.  Loadings are expected to continue into August.

Meanwhile, mixed vegetable loadings have got underway, primarily from Southern Georgia.


Mushroom may not be at the top of your list when looking for produce loads, but it continues to grow in popularity.  Pennsylvania is huge when it comes to growing and shipping mushrooms, along with California and Illinois.  However, many states have mushroom growing facilities.

Sales of the 2011-12 U.S. mushroom crop totaled 900 million pounds, up 4 percent from the 2010-11 season.. This amounts to 22,500 truckload equivalents of mushrooms being hauled annually.

Vidalia onions – grossing about $2400 to Chicago.

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As Florida Veggies Wind Down, Other Eastern Areas are Starting

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DSCN0394While total Florida spring produce volume is winding down, some other areas in the East are shipping, or will be soon.

Florida red potato shipments are about two weeks later than usual as a series of winter freezes and heavy spring rains damaged the crop and could cut yields by as much as 50% on the front end of the red potato season.  Shipments got underway around Palatka, Fla. about the second week of May.  South Florida red spud loadings finished up in mid-May around Lake Wales.

Watermelons shipments got off to a shaky start from Southern Florida, but quality has improved and product is coming in steady volume out of the Ft. Meyers and Arcadia areas.  The harvest gradually moves northward over the next few weeks, before shifting to Georgia around June 15-20, about two weeks later than usual.

As Florida  veggie loadings decline, the transition from central Florida to southern Georgia is bringing lighter-than-normal volume on some vegetables. which are behind two weeks or more due to weather.

Georgia bell peppers and cucumbers are still moving in light volume and decent shipments are not expected  until early to mid-June.  Squash and bean shipments from south Georgia are now ending.

Vidalia onions

While it was rough start for Vidalia onion shipments this year, with seed stem problems, better weather is making life easier for both shippers and truckers.

While no official crop estimates have been made, observers see total Vidalia onion loadings at around 4.5 million boxes this season.

Seed stem has adversely about 30% to 40% of Vidalia crops this year.

North Carolina

Sweet corn shipments should get under way in mid-June,   at least two weeks later than normal.   A similar situation exists with lettuce……Currently, cilantro and kale are being shipped.

South Georgia vegetables – grossing about $2600 to New York City.


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Pelvis Bates: Delivers His First Produce Load on a Flatbed

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It’s often observed you can haul onions on practically anything and driver Pelvis Bates of Newberry, SC is proof. met Pelvis several weeks ago as he was unstrapping a flatbed trailer with a load of onions.

He had delivered a load of steel from North Carolina to San Antonio.  From there he deadheaded to south Texas where he picked up the onions around 10 p.m. on a Tuesday and was preparing to have them unloaded on the Atlanta State Farmers Market on the following Thursday afternoon.

His onion load was grossing 71,000 pounds, with the product on pallets on a 48-foot Great Dane flatbed.  He was driving an International Pro Star Premium.

Pelvis drives for  Senn Freight Lines Inc. of Augusta, GA, a company he says is owned by two brothers running 102 trucks.

This was the 45-year-old trucker’s first produce load in his relatively short career in trucking.

“They (shipper) told me to  leave the front and back of the load open (with the rest of the load covered by strap held tarps) so the air could flow through it.  This was to help prevent the onions from going bad,” he said.

Before entering trucking three years ago, Pelvis worked for a screen printing company.  When that business folded, he received a severance pay and used some of the money to enroll in truck driving school.

His first job in trucking was with Swift Transportation pulling dry vans.  He has been with Senn Freight about a year.

As Pelvis was unstrapping his load after the 1,300-mile haul, he says this is the first job he has had pulling a flatbed trailer.

“It is extra work unstringing the straps and and removing the tarps.  When I first started doing this it took me two hours to strap a load.   It now takes me about 45 minutes to an hour.  That’s a lot of strapping.  These tarps weigh 180 pounds each.  If it’s 100 degress out here, that is hard work,” states the 45-year-old.

Pelvis says one of the best things about trucking is it affords the opportunity to see a lot of the country.  Becoming an owner operator has crossed his mind, but he quickly adds, “it’s too expensive.  I don’t see how those guys do it.”






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Eastern Produce Shipments from Florida to Maine

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Strawberry shipments from the Plant City, FL area have been underway for more than a month, but only in very light volume.  This is changing as available loads will show significant increases by December 10, and be in big volume around December  15-20.  Central Florida also has very light volume with cherry, grape, roma and green tomatoes.  The area also is shipping variety of vegetables.  However, this overall is seasonally a very light volume period for Florida.  Expect multiple pickups to involved with most loads.

You may even have to fill out the trailer from those Florida pick ups with a few pallets of  cabbage, greens or broccoli from Southern Georgia.  In fact, the whole Eastern seaboard extending into the Northeast and New England doesn’t hold a lot of volume, but sometimes something is better than nothing.

In eastern growing areas of North Carolina, the biggest volume is with sweet potatoes, not necessarily known for paying the best freight rates…..In upstate New York, Orange County is shipping storage onions, while central and western areas are loading cabbage.  New York apples were hit pretty hard by freezing weather earlier this year, especially from western and central shipping points.  Even the Hudson Valley did not escape the freeze, although it came out better than the rest of the state.

In northern Maine, Aroostoock County is shipping around 150 truck loads of potatoes a week.

Maine potatoes – grossing about $1700 to New York City.

North Carolina sweet potatoes – about $1500 to Atlanta.

Florida vegetables and strawberries – about $2600 to Boston.



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Fall Produce Shipments Increasing Around the Country

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Fall is definately settling in across the USA and autumn produce loads also are increasing.

The biggest indication the new season is gearing up is in the Northwest with shipments of apples from Washington’s Yakima and Wenachee Valleys.   Last week the state’s apple volume exceeded 2,200 truckload equivalents and the amount will continue increasing in the weeks ahead.  Demand for apples around the country is strong in big part due to Michigan losing most of its crop due to weather, plus significant losses in New York state.

In California, the heaviest volume for produce shipments continues with table grapes from the San Joaquin Valley, averaging about 1,600 truckloads per week.  Salinas Valley lettuce is providing the next most available loads averaging about around 1,200 truckloads each week.  There also are good loading opportunities with Watsonville area strawberries and with tomatoes from the Central San Joaquin Valley.  The valley also is shipping stone fruit, but it is now in a seasonal decline.

In the upper mid-west, central Wisconsin about 400 truckloads of potatoes a week, but this will be increasing.   In the same area, fresh cranberry shipments are small compared to potatoes, but still significant and will be increasing, particularly by the end of October as Thanksgiving shipments get underway.

In New England, there are light amounts of apples being shipped.  Massachusetts cranberry shipments from the Cape Cod area also have started, and will increase in a similar fashion to those in Wisconsin.

On New York’s Long Island, about 60 truckloads of potatoes are being shipped weekly from the eastern end of the island.

Looking at North Carolina, the nation’s largest sweet potato shipper, there are about 65,000 acres of the product.  Normal volume is expected.  Some of the old crop is still being loaded.  However, the new sweet potato crop will soon provide most of the shipments.  A average amount of about 15 million cartons of sweet potatoes should be shipped from North Carolina over the next 10 or 11 months.

Washington apples – grossing about $4400 to Chicago.

Salinas Valley vegetables and berries – about $7100 to New York City.

Wisconsin potatoes – about $1000 to Chicago.

North Carolina sweet potatoes – about $1500 Atlanta.



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Looking at Shipments of Grapefruit, Avocados, Sweet Potatoes

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This is the time of year when shipments of Florida grapefruit gets underway, as well as the new crop of sweet potatoes from various states coast-to-coast.  It also means shipments of avocados will soon be shipping from California to arrivals of ports of entry from Mexico, as well as at various ocean ports receiving avocados from Chile.

Florida Grapefruit Loads

There was a  shortage of California fruit and those shipments the first half of September ended about two weeks earlier than usual. Florida citrus shippers are beginning their new season shipping grapefruit right on schedule.   Growers in the Indian River region began harvesting the last week of September.  Loading opportunities for Florida grapefruit should start volume in early to mid-October.

Avocado Shipments

 Plenty of avocado shipments should be available as California supplies wind down and Mexican and Chilean shipments increase.

California loads will be available longer than usual this fall, and big volumes from Mexico will be crossing the border  in the coming weeks. By mid-October, California should be mostly finished for the season.

 Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato shipments in the USA may be down slightly this season, which extends through next summer.

As we previously reported, Louisiana and Mississippi were onlyslightly affected by Hurricane Isaac in late August….North Carolina and California are the largest shippers of sweet potatoes.

In 2011, there were 133,600 acres of sweet potatoes planted, while this year an estimated 131,400 acres planted.

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An Update on Fall National Produce Shipping Areas

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There will be a half dozen fresh potato shippers up and running in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota by the end of this week.  That is a few more than typically run in mid-September, but with an early wrap-up in Big Lake, MN, demand is quickly shifting to the Red River Valley. Cooler temperatures this week should speed the harvest even more. 

In North Carolina, the earliest shipping of cured sweet potatoes got underway September 17 from the new crop.  However, some shippers will be shipping the old sweet potato crop through September….North Carolina leads the nation in sweet potato volume, which comes off of 64,000 acres from various parts of the state.

Sweet onions from Peru are arriving at various USA ports.  Arrival of asparagus from Peru also are occurring, and should peak between now and into October.

Washington state is now shipping its second largest apple crop on record, estimated to be nearly 109 million boxes.

In California, pomegrante shipments are underway.  It joins a host of more common produce items ranging from table grapes and stone fruit in the San Joaquin Valley, to veggies from the Salinas area…..The Santa Maria district is shipping a wide variety of berries and vegetables, although not in the volume found around Salinas.  Freight rates fromt he Santa Maria district have risen slightly, while most other areas of the state are showing much change in rates, indicating adequate truck supplies.

Salinas Valley produce – grossing about $7200 to New York City.

Washington state fruit – about $4000 to Dallas.

Eastern North Carolina sweet potatoes – about $2250 to Chicago.

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Late Summer, Fall Launches Sweet Potatoes Loads

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Late summer and early fall launches sweet potato shipments from several states.  Before I go any further, sweet potatoes are not among the leaders when it comes to good produce rates.  But neither are other basic “hardware” items such as potatoes and onions.  There’s a reason berries and vegetable trucking rates are better;  they are more perishable.

North Carolina is the leading shipper of sweet potatoes in the USA.  The Tar Heel state has slashed acreage by 5,000 acres this season after a disaterous overproduction a year ago.  The old crop has been finally clean up and you will now be loading sweet potatoes from the new crop, which means a fresher product with which receivers should be more pleased.  Happy receivers result in fewer claims and rejections of loads.  One other point.  Receivers don’t care for green sweet potatoes.  They prefer product that has been cured.  Most sweet potatoes loads should be cured entering October.

Mississippi and Louisiana have been irrigating dry sweet potato fields, at least until Hurrican Issac arrived.

Louisana sweet potatoes apparently dodged the budget from Issac.  Farms in southwest and central Louisiana received about an inch of rain from Isaac, and farms in northeast Louisiana between 4 and 4 1/2 inches.  Harvest may be delayed up to week to allow fields to dry out.

No word on yet on how Mississippi sweet potatoe shipments may have been affected.



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Eastern Apple Shipments will be down This Season

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There will be fewer apples for hauling in two of four of the leading eastern states this fall.  New York got hit the hardest by frost related weather earlier this year, but there also will be fewer loads available for produce haulers in North Carolina.  Pennsylvania and Virginia will be up in volume only slightly.

New York state’s Western and Central apple shipping areas were hit the hardest, with less frost damage occuring in the eastern part of the state, home of the Hudson Valley.  Still, New York’s volume will be down 52 percent from last apple season ( 590 million pounds compared to 1.2 billion pound a year ago). 

In Pennsylvania, apples are forecast to be at 481 million pounds.  It shipped 458 million pounds last year. 

North Carolina took a beating.  This year it expects to load 40 million pounds of apples compared to 140 million pounds in 2011.

The leading apple shipper in the mid-west, Michigan will ship 85 percent fewer apples this season.

Ironically, Washington state, which normally ships about half of the nation’s apples every year, is expected to account for 77 percent of the nation’s apple loads for 2012-13.  This is despite suffering some hail damage.  The state was on track for historic volume, until the fowl weather hit.  Still, Washington state is expected to have its second largest amount of apple shipments on record.

One difference produce haulers can expect out of the Northwest this season is for Washington shippers to be packing more apples than normal in the smaller, consumer bags.  This is because Michigan normally is heavy with bagged apples, and Washington packers will be looking to help fill this void.

Produce truckers should always watch what is being loaded, not only for proper count, but for quality and appearance of the product being loaded.  This is especially true if you are hauling apples from most shipping areas this season.  Expect shippers to be loading some fruit with pits or hail damage marks on it.  Just make sure whom you are hauling for is aware of this situation to help reduce changes of claims or rejected loads.   Also, be sure and note it on the bill of lading.

Washington state apples grossing – about $5600 to New York City.

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