Texas produce growers are currently harvesting and shipping melons, citrus and other crops to supermarkets mostly throughout the Eastern half of the country.
When the Lone Star State producers of fresh fruits and vegetable are not in season, Texas is the major route for fruits and vegetables from Mexico.
Many Texas produce operations also have relationships with the growers in Mexico.
For example, in 2016, two-thirds of all the fresh produce sold in Texas was grown in Mexico. Texas grows $900 million of 60 different produce items on 117,000 acres. There are 26,000 acres of watermelons, and 22,000 acres of grapefruit out of a total of 29,000 acres of citrus.
As of 2018, Texas had a population of 28 million people and has the third highest growth population rate of all the states at 1.8 percent per year.
J & D Produce Inc. of Edinburg, TX is a grower-shipper in the Rio Grande Valley and has been shipping kale during the winter for over 25 years to the northeastern U.S.
The company estimates 20 percent of what it grows is distributed in the Lone Star State, while the other 80 percent is shipped out of the state wholesale terminal markets and retail distribution centers, mostly east of the Mississippi River.
Texas is so important in grapefruit and orange production that when California’s largest grower-shipper wanted to fill out their portfolio of year-round citrus, they looked to the Lower Rio Grand Valley.
Wonderful Citrus of Los Angeles grows and ships Texas grapefruit and oranges. While volume during the past five years has been flat, new plantings of grapefruit and oranges were launched a few years ago. The company is now expecting shipments to increase over the next several years.
Wonderful citrus is now the largest red grapefruit grower in Texas, accounting for 50 to 55 percent total share of volume this winter season.
Although Florida remains the orange juice king despite struggles with citrus greening disease, California and Texas are by far the leading fresh market citrus producers with a combined total of nearly 300,000 acres,
The 2018-2019 Texas vegetable shipments experienced problems due to weather factors during the growing season and will conclude in the middle of April. Excessive rains in the Rio Grande Valley, including the Winter Garden district west of San Antonio, made for difficulty in planting schedules, and then later with harvesting, packing and shipping.
In 2016, U.S. fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico reached about 10 million metric tons, with a total value of about $12.4 billion, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service statistics, which accounted for 43 percent of all U.S. fruit-and-vegetable imports from all countries.
About half of all the fresh produce coming into the country from Mexico does so through Texas. Each year, 255,000 truckloads cross the border from Mexico into Texas. At the Pharr International Bridge south of McAllen alone, 157,000 loads of produce come in every year, which is a little more than Nogales, AZ.
Tomatoes account for nearly 30 percent of all the vegetables imported from Mexico, while avocados, watermelons and limes make up more than half the volume of fruits.
Over the previous 12 years, fresh produce from Mexico has grown significantly each year, the biggest items being tomatoes, avocados, limes, mangos and broccoli. Mangos and limes are very close in volume and one or the other can lead in volume from year-to-year to rank number 5 in imports. The volume of both is now larger than sweet peppers.
Following early shipments the past couple of years, Arkansas tomato loadings are expected to be more normal time-wise with light volume starting around June 10. Primary production is centered in south-central Arkansas around small towns such as Hermitage. Shipments should continue until about July 20th.
We’ll soon be entering the time of year when the bottom will drop out on Florida produce shipments as overall volume plummets. An exception is with Florida avocados.
South Florida had 7,500 acres in the 2012-13 season, shipping 1.16 million bushels. This was higher than the 819,594 bushel average growers shipped on an annual basis between 2006 and 2010.
Very light avocado shipments have started, but good volume will not hit until about July 1st. Peak shipments should take place in July through September.
It is the tail end of the Florida shipping season for citrus, but there may be a little more product for hauling than originally predicted. The updated estimate shows an increase in grapefruit and a small decline in tangerines, with orange volume remaining the same.
The grapefruit forecast has been increased by 1.3 million equivalent cartons in May from its April estimate.
Colored grapefruit production increased 500,000 cartons while white grapefruit jumped 800,000 cartons, according to the USDA. About 95% of the state’s grapefruit has been shipped. The tangerines forecast has been dropped by 100,000 boxes to 3.4 million boxes. About 97% of the state’s honey tangerines has been shipped.
As for oranges, volume remains at 138 million cartons, with the late season valencias volume staying at 71 million cartons. The majority of the Florida’s oranges are processed. As for the fresh market, about 70% of navels, half of the grapefruit and two-thirds of the tangerines are for fresh.
While Michigan and New York took major hits with apple crops this year, there are plenty of apples for hauling through the end of the season, which won’t occur until next summer. In fact, nine percent more apples remain in USA storages, compared to a year ago.
As of December 1st around 103 million bushels of fresh-market apples remained for haulers. This also is nine percent above the five-year average.
Forget the freeze-related losses in Michigan and New York, Washington state is loading the fruit in record numbers. 34-million bushels of red delicious apples alone, remain to be shipped. Beside red delicious, there are more Galas, golden delicious, fujis and granny smiths than last year.
While loads of Florida citrus will be down by five percent this season, the USDA still sees 146 million boxes being shipped. The primary decrease in volume will occur with the early and mid season varieties, which are off seven percent. The USDA issued its first forecast in October and will follow with monthly updates through the end of the season in July.
The USDA makes its first estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly as the crop takes shape until the end of the season in July. Disease and weather factors are cited for the decline in volume.
During the 2011-12 season, Florida moved 146.6 million boxes of oranges.
For Florida specialty fruit, the USDA predicts volume declines with tangelos and tangerines.
As for Florida grapefruit, the Sunshine state should ship around 18 million boxes, down from the forecaset of 20.3 million boxes a month ago.
Florida citrus – grossing about $2400 to New York.
Washington state apples – about $5600 to New York.
The South American country of Chile provides a substantial portion of loadings of fruit (not to mention for consumer consumption) beginning in the new few weeks and continuing well into the New Year. While some Chilean fruit arrives by air early in the season, the vast majority of it is shipped by boat arriving at ports in Philadelphia; Wilmington, NC and Long Beach, CA.
Over 75 varieties of fruit are imported each year from Chile, but the five top items providing you with loading opportunities are grapes, apples, avocados, blueberries and navel oranges. These account for about 75 percent of the volume. Limited amounts of fruit already are arriving by air, particularly cherries. However, volume will pick up significantly in December, but heaviest volumes with the biggest item – grapes arrving by boat — is typically during January, February, March and April.
Heaviest arrivals at USA ports for grapes is expected to be at the beginning of the season – starting in late December, with a second peak in volume occuring in late March or early April.
The first “blues” will arrive by air in early December, with arrivals by boat at USA ports coming by the middle of the month. Chilean blueberries should be available for hauls into April. However, your best loading opportunities will during the peak volume period of about December 21st to February 22nd.
The first boat with cherries should arrive on the East Coast between December 6-10. There were 3 million boxes of Chilean cherries imported a year ago, although imports are expected to be somewhat lower this time around.
Heaviest volume is with plums, although there are lesser amounts of nectarines and peaches. Plums tend to have less quality problems, followed by nectarines. Chile seems to have a lot of quality problems with peaches, and this is something to keep in mind when hauling this winter fruit. Your chances of claims and rejections may increase.
Chilean kiwifruit and Asian pears will start arriving at USA ports in lat March, with sugar plums coming in late April. These will be followed by persimmons, pomegranates and quinces in spring and summer.
Having opposite seasons from the USA, southern hemisphere countries such as Chile make it possible to have fruit on a year around basis.
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.
Florida certainly isn’t a destination many produce haulers seek in the fall, unless they are taking a vacation. It is historically quite difficult to find return loads out of the Sunshine state after delivering there. Still, here’s a look at what should be available with citrus and vegetable loads during the next couple of months.
There will be fewer navel oranges available, but larger volumes of grapefruit and tangerines as Florida’s early season shipments move to bigger volumes. The USDA issued on October 11th it’s first season forecast. Florida expects to ship 2.2 million equivalent cartons of navels, 17 percent less than a year ago. Although fewer loads are forecast, it still is a decent volume for the state. While citrus shipments are moving into good volume, lighter movement is seen starting in late December and early January.
Fall vegetable loadings from Central and Southern Florida are expected to be down from a year ago, particularly with items such as sweet corn, green beans, bell peppers, cucumbers and squash. While the harvest began last month, we’re looking at mid November to around Thanksgiving before better volume starts.
While plantings of Florida fall veggies are generally lower this season, larger volume with strawberries from the Plant City area is expected. Light harvest starts in late November with volume and shipments increasing during December.
Loading opportunities with Florida citrus will be up slightly from a year ago, following the trend of two other major citrus shipping states, California and Texas.
Overall orange shipments in Florida, which goes primarily to processors, is expected to increase four percent, from 206.2 million boxes to 214.9 million boxes.
The USDA predicts Florida loads to see only a slight increase, with the differnce coming in white grapefruit. However, a majority of grapefruit is for the fresh market.
Florida’s speciality citrus production is predicted to fall by seven percent for early-season and the later-season honey tangerines.
Overall Florida fresh produce shipments are entering the slowest time of the year. Good volume normally doesn’t return until late March or April when the spring mixed vegetable season cranks up.
As for USA citrus loading opportunities, the USDA sees a national increase for the fast approaching season. Overall USA citrus shipments are forecast to increase this upcoming season on all varieties except for Florida tangerines, California valencias and Texas oranges, which all are predicted to see slight declines. California’s main citrus volume is with navel oranges, while Texas typically ships a lot more grapefruit than oranges from the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
The USDA predicts the USA will increase overall citrus volume from last season’s 272.4 million equivalent cartons to 284.3 million equivalent cartons this year, a 4.2 percent hike.
Early, midseason and navel oranges are forecast to remain the same from last season, and late-season valencias are expected to increase from last season’s 73 million boxes to 80 million boxes this year.
Recent rains in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota has helped the harvest due to badly needed moisture in the soil for digging operations. About 150 truck loads of potatoes was shipped last week and should be increasing in the weeks ahead.
Russet potato shipments are increasing from Central portions of Wisconsin. During the past week around 500 truck loads of potatoes were being trucked to various markets. There also are loadings of cranberries from Central Wisconsin, as well as cabbage from the Southeastern portions of the state.
Only about 25 percent of the Wisconsin potato volume is being shipped out of Nebraska. Most product is originating out out of the southwestern and the northeastern portions of the Cornhusker state.
In the Northeastern area of Colorado, there are moderate shipments of storage onions.
Michigan normally is shipping a lot more apples this time of the year, but a devastating freeze about six months ago has drastically reduced volume. There is light volume with potatoes, but the focus continues to be harvesting spuds for storage. Potato shipments should significantly increase in November.
Texas cabbage shipments are occuring from the Winter Garden District, just south of San Antonio. In another month shipments of grapefruit and oranges should be increasing out of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
Central Wisconsin potatoes – grossing about $2500 to Atlanta.
Fall official begins in the USA on September 22nd, 9:49 CST. However, in a sense fall really kicks off in the minds of many, after Labor Day, September 3rd. It also means the beginning of fall produce loads for many new items, and is the start of late season shipping for a number of produce items. Total USA produce volume does not match that of summer, but it certainly beat the low volume season of winter.
California provides a lot of loading opportunties for produce haulers during the fall season.
Grapes – Historic shipments of table grapes from the San Joaquin Valley will peak in September. Nearly 110 million 19-pound cartons are expected to be shipped by the end of the season in late 2012.
Oranges – While the smaller valencia loadings, expected to total 28 million boxes, end in October, the much larger navel orange crop kicks in as valencia finish.
Apples – While shipments have been underway for several weeks, loadings of the popular fuji and granny smith varieties have just started.
Strawberries – Shipments are running about 11 percent ahead compared to this time last year. While loadings are past their summer peak, decent volume continues into the fall. Through August about four to five million trays were being shipped, and this will drop to around three to four million trays during September. While most strawberry shipments through the summer have been from the Watsonville/Salinas area, those loadings with be in decline before ending in late November. The volume from that area will be replaced with shipments originating from Oxnard.
Pomegranates – This may not be one of the visible or promenate produce items for hauling, yet there will be about four million boxes of pomegranates shipped, beginning in early October.
Kiwifruit — About two-thirds of the loadings originate out of the Southern San Joaquin Valley and about one-third from the northern Sacramento Valley. Shipments are expected to be down 15 to 20 percent for the 2012-13 season, with loading forecast at about 7 million, seven pound trays, with loadings to kick off around the second week of October.
Persimmons – Average shipments are forecast, with loadings becoming available around the third week of September from such towns as Madera and Reedley.
Pumpkins – Shipments got underway from around Manteca, CA the week of August 27th., which is about normal. However peak loadings are not expected until the end of September and early October.
I’ve recently returned from a produce show in Dallas and although freight rates on California produce loads have recently been steady, or in some cases declining a little, most people I’ve talked to (shippers, wholesalers, truck brokers, trucking companies) only see this as the calm before the storm. In coming weeks as volume builds throughout many California shipping districts, they are expecting rates to show significant increases. $9000 produce rates from the West Coast to the East Coast are expected to be common. Some would not be surprised if rates hit $10,000.
Here’s the outlook for loading opportunities on the huge volume of summer fruit that annually is shipped from California.
Strawberries – Mostly available right now out of Southern California and to a lesser degree from Santa Maria. Yet California ships 88 percent of the nation’s strawberries and it really cranks up in a few weeks when Watsonville starts shipping in volume.
Blueberries – These berries are now being loaded out of the Arvin district and as the season progresses will move northward in the San Joaquin Valley to Delano and Kingsburg. California expects to ship 15 to 20 million pounds of “blues” this year.
Melons – watermelon and honeydew from the Bakersfield area kicks off in mid-June, followed by cantaloupes around July 1st.
Stone Fruit – It was in 2008 around 60-million 25-pound cartons of peaches, plums and nectarines were shipped, but last year loadings were down to an estimated 47 million cartons. Don’t expect anymore this year. California has been shipping too much stone fruit that doesn’t taste very good, and are replacing some orchards with improved varieties….Cherries are a different story. Californians know how to grow good tasting cherries! This year the state should be loading decent volumes of cherries by the third week of May. Shipments should be in the 8 to 10-million box range; 12-million boxes in the unlikely event perfect weather continues.
Table Grapes – The Coachella Valley is currently shipping grapes and will continue through June. Shipments will then transition to the Arvin/Bakersfield district, where the huge volume will begin and gradually moves northward through the San Joaquin Valley. California may have record shipments this year, and top 100-million boxes for the first time.
Apples – California isn’t really known for apple shipments as it is dwarfed by Washington state. However, it does have 16,000 acres of orchards and available loads should be similar to last year. Shipments of the gala variety begins in late July and runs through mid-September. This variety will be followed by granny smiths in August and and fujis in September and cripps pink in October.
Oranges – The 75-million-plus cartons of navels are pretty much history for this year, while smaller loadings of valencias are now being shipped. About 28 million, 40-pound boxes of valencias should be shipped.