Posts Tagged “North Dakota”

Western USA Produce Shipments are Steady

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California Navel  orange shipments for the 2012-13 season is estimated at 93 million cartons (40-pound equivalent) statewide and 90 million cartons for the  San Joaquin Valley, according to the  USDA.

While shipments for California Navels should be heavy, it will probably be short of a record.   The record was hit in the 2010-11 season, when the Central Valley alone produced 93 million cartons, and up 6 percent from the 2011-12 loads.

The first shipments took place in early November.

 Red potato shipments out of North Dakota and Minnesota are nearly 35 percent head of loadings through October than they were during he same fall period a year ago.  Red River Valley fresh potato shipments are expected to be the largest since 2008.

The total USA potato volume is estimated to be at least 12 million hundredweight larger than a year ago.

The North American Potato Market news is reporting that average daily shipments of russets has dropped 0.6 percent compared to last year while daily red shipments increased 18 percent.

Texas citrus season is in full swing, and shipping has begun for grapefruit and oranges.  The USDA forecast for the 2012 – 2013 Texas citrus season is 2.8 million cartons of oranges and 10.6 million cartons of grapefruit.

Moderate shipments of watermelons from Mexico will continue crossing the border into Nogales, AZ through the end of the year.  Overall Mexican fruit and vegetable crossing at Nogales are seasonally light, but the will change in Janaury as a host of produce items will be increasing in volume.

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Central USA Produce Shipments are Mostly Steady

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At least for some shippers in the Red River Valley, it was looking a little dim in September due to drought.  However, October rains have increased yields —  and loading opportunities have improved for those who haul red potatoes out of the region, located on the borders of North Dakota and Minnesota.

The last of the spuds are now being dug.  It’s looking like valley potato shipments for the 2012-13 season will be quite close to the five-year average.  Currently, only about 250 truckloads a week or being shipped, but loadings are still increasing as the focus moves from harvest, and storage to shipping.

From central Wisconsin, russet potato loads are averaging around 500 truckloads per week…..Peak shipments of cranberries for the Thanksgiving holidays are now underway from central Wisconsin.

Nebraska continues light loadings of potatoes.  In the southwestern part of the state potatoes are being shipped from the Imperial, Neb area.  The other most active part of the state is around O’Neill in the northeastern part of the Nebraska.

In the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, grapefruit and orange shipments have been slowly ramping up.    Because California’s season ended early, there’s been good demand for Texas citrus, although loadings have been limited and there’s not much citrus yet to be found in the retail stores.

If you are loading grapefruit or oranges in South Texas, it should be a little more simple than 20 years ago when there were at least two dozen citrus companies.   That number has shank to only four, primarily due to  mergers and acquisitions.  This should be reducing the number pick ups required for some hauls.

Central Wisconsin potatoes – grossing about  $3400 to Houston.

Red River Valley red potatoes – about $4300 to Orlando.



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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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Randy Boushey: Rates Lagging from Years Ago

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“When I started trucking 30 years ago, I was making similar wages to what these guys are making today,” states Randy Boushey, who used to truck a lot and still owns three older Freightliners he uses when in a pinch.

Randy still has his CDL, still trucks on occasion, but focuses more on being president of A & L Potato Co., a 71-year-old company that packs and ships potatoes out of East Grand Forks, MN.

He recalls making “big money” by comparison to what drivers are receiving today. 

“I wish I’d put some of it away.  What’s the farmer’s prayer?” he asks himself.  “Please God let me make lots of money this year, and I promise I won’t piss it away this time.”

Randy still has fond memories of the days when he spent more driving a big rig.  In fact, he claims he would put another newer models on the road if getting and keeping good, qualified drivers wasn’t such a challenge.

He ships a lot of red potatoes out of the Red River of North Dakota and Minnesota.

Randy has seen scenario from both sides of the fence; as a produce trucker and as a produce shipper.  He realizes how important trucking is to the equation.

“Customers don’t want to hear excuses because they didn’t receive their potatoes because you couldn’t get a truck,” Randy says.  “Getting trucks to come into the valley has been a challenge early in the potato season, because there hasn’t been a lot of outbound loads here.”

Randy points out a number of changes in transportation are occurring in the Red River Valley.  For example, Britton Transport of Grand Forks, ND recently acquired Scott’s Inc., a truck brokerage.  Pardee Transportation of Brooks, MN has bought out Prairie Line, a small fleet based in Fargo, ND.  Plus, there was another trucking that recently filed bankruptcy.

“It is not going to get any easier.  As good as our freight rates are on our commodities leaving here, that is only half of the puzzle.  We’ve got to be able to load the trucks back into here.  With $4-plus per gallon diesel fuel, it is imperative there is a decent rate for the truck,” Randy concludes.

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Britton Transport Acquires Scott’s Express

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Britton Transport Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Bison Transport Inc., announced today the acquisition of Scott’s Express Inc. and Scott’s Transportation Services Inc. (collectively “Scott’s), located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Scott’s was established in 1952 and is a nationwide trucking and truck brokerage company, specializing in Agribusiness throughout the United States and parts of Canada.

Brad Seymour

 “The acquisition of Scott’s expands and builds upon Britton’s customer relationships and capabilities as a logistics service provider in the Red River Valley,” said Dave Britton, President of Britton. “Scott’s has a long tradition of service excellence among agricultural shippers within the valley and will continue to service its customers with Britton’s support. We are excited about the opportunity to serve Scott’s long-term customers with Britton’s asset-based capabilities.”

 Brad Seymour, President of Scott’s, will continue with the company in the transition of ownership and servicing of Scott’s customers. He says, “I have known Dave Britton for over 25 years and have a high regard for the way Britton does business. We are very pleased to be joining forces with Britton and I feel it gives our employees and our customers a platform to grow in the years ahead.”

 Founded in 1952, Scott’s was initially operated as a filling station but soon after Archie Scott identified a need for sourcing trucks on behalf of local potato farmers. What started as a sideline became the first truck brokerage in the Red River Valley. Today, Scott’s continues to service the potato and specialty crop sector with superior service and an unmatched reputation.

Financial details concerning this transaction have not been disclosed.

(This story appeared 8/28/12 in Potato Bytes, the online publication of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association)

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Fall Potato Shipments Gearing up from Red River Valley

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I made my first trip to the Red River Valley, the nation’s largest red potato growing area, in December 1996.  I thought when this southern boy who found himself in -40 degree F wind chills, I was going to freeze to death!  Located on the North Dakota, Minnesota border, I have been back every year since, only in the summertime.

Whether I’m spending time with potato shippers, or truckers up here, there are no friendlier people to be found anywhere.

Getting to the Red River Valley with a load, whether going to Fargo on the southern end of the valley, or a small town located near the Canadian border, or any location found between the eastern edge of valley in far Western Minnesota, or approximately 100 miles to the other side of the valley in North Dakota, often isn’t easy.  It can be as challenging as getting a load of freight from the Midwest to the West Coast.

Right now, grain haulers are taking center stage as the harvest in the valley is well underway.  However, shortly after Labor Day, the huge combines will give away to digging potatoes from the region’s rich, black soil.

The only potatoes in the region currently being harvested are out of Big Lake and Long Prairie, MN.  While the spuds are grown in Minnesota, many, if not most of them are actually being sold by the larger shippers in the Red River Valley such as Associated Potato Growers, Grand Forks, ND; NoKota Packers, Buxton, ND; and A&L Potato Co., East Grand Forks, MN.  These companies often arrange the transportation as well.

The harvest of Red River Valley potatoes typically lasts from September into October, or until the first hard frost kills off the remaining potatoes in the fields.

Patrick Sammons of St. Joseph, MO is a driver for Grand Forks based Britton Transport.  “It’s tough sometimes getting loads into the valley,” he admits.

Driver Jerry Smedly of Staples, MN says he hauls more french fries out of the valley than he does fresh red potatoes.  He hauls for Attendorf Express Inc. out of Minto, ND.

Dave Moquist grows and ships red potatoes out of Crystal, ND.  His company, O.C. Schulz & Sons, has found truck supplies to be adequate the past couple of years.  However, potato shipments also have been down, requiring less equipment for hauling.

Paul Dolan of Associated Potato Growers, large potato cooperative based in Grand Forks, ND, says trucks were in tight supply last fall.  He believes part of the reason is the oil boom taking place in the Western region of North Dakota.  It is taking drivers that normally would be hauling other things.

Overall, red potatoes from the valley for the 2012-13 shipping season, are expected tobe normal at best.  Warmer weather and less rain are expected to cut total shipments this season.  — Bill Martin

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Potato, Onion Rates will Appear More Attractive Soon

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Most fruit and vegetable rates are paying significantly more than rates on potatoes and onions right now, but the difference in rates will be shrinking in the next several weeks as overall fruit and veggie volume seasonally declines and the spud and onion volume rises with the new crops.

There is over 1 million acres of potatoes planted in the USA for the crop that is now  being harvested.  That is 46,000 more acres than at this time a year ago!  Translation:  There’s a huge crop that will need to be transported to market – and the railroads can only haul a relatively small amount of it.  That means plenty of hauling opportunties this fall, winter and next spring for truckers with refrigerated equipment. 

The top nine states with the most potatoes in order of size are:  Idaho, Washington, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Oregon.

Idaho, the USA’s biggest potato producer,  will have a lot more potatoes for hauling this season.

Potato shipments from Washington and Oregon get underway in early August, with volume expected to be normal and about the same as a year ago.  Washington has about 25,000 acres of spuds for the fresh market.  The Umatilla-Hermiston potato volume may be down a little from last season.  No big deal though.

In central Wisconsin, red, white, yellow and russet potato diggings have been underway and shipments begin when the old crop is all sold, or customers begin demanding fresh potatoes from the new season, over the old ones which have been in storages forever.  The spuds becoming available will be more abundant than on average from the past five years.


Helping Western onion shipments was the early demise of the Vidalia, GA onion season.  It has created bigger demand for onions in the West and demand for trucks from places such as Bakersfield, CA and from Southern New Mexico and the Pasco area of Washington state.  Also, imported onions from Peru will begin arriving at USA ports in early August.

Idaho potatoes are grossing – about $4800 to New York City’s Hunts Point.






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Central U.S. Produce Shipments

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Supplies of refrigerated equipment are tightening for hauling Lower Rio Grande Valley produce, as well as Mexico fresh products crossing the border into Texas.  This has resulted in some relatively small rate increases.  Everything from grapefruit, oranges, greens, and cabbage, among other items are being hauled out of South Texas to various U.S. destinations.

There continues to be steady movement of Colorado potatoes out of the San Luis Valley…..The same goes for Michigan apples from the Western part of the state.

In the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota shipments of red potatoes have recently increased by about 15 percent.  Most of this season, loadings have been below those of a year ago.  However, increased demand should keep shipments above 2011 levels through the spring and into the summer.  No significant rate increases have been reported.

Grand Forks, ND red potatoes shipments – grossing about $3900 to Philadelphia.

Colorado russet potatoes – about $1600 to Dallas.

Michigan apples – $2000 to Houston.

South Texas produce – $3000 to Chicago.

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Red River Valley Spuds

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Potatoes are the fourth largest food crop grown in the world behind rice, corn and wheat.  Most people think of Idaho when they consider potatoes — and rightfully so when it comes to russets.  However, the Red River Valley, located on the borders of North Dakota and Minnesota are the leaders in red potato shipments.

If you haul produce, I wouldn’t suggest trying to get to the frozen tundra this time of the year.  The folks are great, but the weather can be brutel.  Besides, there’s no shortage of equipment to move the red potatoes.  However, a friend of mine this week was in Fargo.  You never know where the next load is going to take you sometimes.

The Red River Valley will be shipping red potatoes into the spring.  Product is holding up well in storages.  Most shipments are ususally to midwest and eastern markets.

Grand Forks, ND to Chicago – potatoes are grossing about $1800.

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