Posts Tagged “Salinas”

In-Transit Issues – Part VI: Reducing Claims and Rejected Loads

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Hauling fresh produce tends to provide much higher freight rates than dry freight, obviously because of the perishability of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the extra care required with temperature, humdity, air circulation in the load, etc.

The higher risk to which truckers are exposed, also includes the possibilites of claims that reduce a driver’s pay check, or even worse, having the load rejected.

The degree of exposure to problems upon arrival at destination can depend on the honesty and integrity of the parties involved.  Did the shipper pre-cool the product?  Did the driver maintain proper temperature settings?  Did the buyer or receiver pay too much for that product five days ago when the order was placed, and now the fruit on the market is worth $2 a box less?  All of these examples can lead to claims or rejections with produce loads.

There have been studies over the years including the recent one titled Comparison of Pallet Cover Systems to Maintain Strawberry Fruit Quality During Transport which provides some interesting information.  For example, this research concludes that TransFresh Corp’s Tectrol process reduces fruit decay  by increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in pallets covered by bags. 

With CO2 levels increased by 11 to 16 percent, Tectrol beats its competitors in the important area of decay in strawberries by up to seven percent following delivery and two days on the shelf.

So how does this translate into a reduction in claims and load rejections for the produce trucker, if there is less decay in product being transported?

“That’s an interesting equation,” states Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. ,  Salinas, CA.  “No one will ever talk about that.  No one gives us their data.  We’ve never been able to prove that (fewer claims, rejected loads), because we get it (information) by hersay.”

Macleod  says experienced drivers know if they pick up a load of strawberries covered with bags, they are confident there will be no problems with that load.  The expert in controlled atmosphere loads has been told by retailers “…their strawberry program is much easier” since using Tectrol.

However, when he asks that customer  for data relating to load rejection and claims for strawberries comparing shipments with and without CO2 infused bagged pallets, he hits a stone wall.  Those receivers acknowledge the benefits of Tectrol, but refuse to provide any statistics.

(This is the last of a 6-part series featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA.  He has been with company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)




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California Produce Loads Continue to Crank Up

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IMG_5643California’s Santa Maria district currently leads the state in strawberry volume with nearly 800 truck loads being shipped a week, but the Watsonville district will be catching up – and surpassing  Santa Maria very soon.  Meanwhile, Salinas Valley vegetables are continuing to increase is volume led by lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower.   The San Joaquin Valley in cranking up with everything from stone fruit to vegetables.

The Imperial and Coachella valleys are shipping melons and mixed veggies, plus Coachella table grapes are now being shipped in volume.

Some produce loads, particularly from more northern Calilforna shipping areas, are already exceeding a rate of $9,000 to the East Coast.

Mexican tomatoes are being shipped in volume from Baja peninsula via distribution centers around San Diego.  Product ranges from romas to grape, cherry and vine ripe tomatoes.

Looking ahead, warm April temperatures have pushed the California pear crop about 10 days ahead of last year.  Early variety pears from the Sacramento River district should get underway around July 2-3, followed by bartletts about July 5.

The projected California almond crop is expected to reach 2 billion pounds this year.  This would fall short only to 2011’s 2.03 billion pound crop and is 6% higher than 2012’s output, which was about 1.89 billion pounds.   Almonds are the state’s largest agricultural export, with California alone producing 80 percent of the world’s supply.

California almond shipments come from over 810,000 acres.

Salinas vegetables – grossing about $9000 to Boston.

San Joaquin Valley stone fruit – about $6,000 to Chicago.

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Produce Hauling from the Salinas Valley, San Joaquin Valley

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Between now and August produce truckers will have the upper hand when it comes to freight rates – assuming you don’t have contract rates (but that’s another story).

Not only are we nearing the peak shipping season from California, which accounts for about half of the nation’s fresh produce, but other areas, particularly in the upper mid-west and east are providing competition for trucks.

Caution Hauling Desert Items

Before I get into the Salinas and San Joaquin Valley shipments, use caution loading desert vegetables such as bell peppers and corn as temperatures well above 100 degrees have been occurring.  It’s been really hot in the Coachella and Imperial valleys, as well as Arizona’s Yuma district.  Little or no report of heat damage has yet been reported but keep your eyes peeled for scalding and other heat symptoms in the days ahead.  Even watermelons can suffer if prolonged heat occurs.

Salinas Valley

Dozens of different kinds of vegetables are being shipped from the Salinas area.  But the big volume items are various types of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower.  There also is decent volume with brussel sprouts and celery.  Nearby Castroville is the artichoke capital of the world, while nearby Watsonville is ground zero for strawberry shipments.

San Joaquin Valley

This report will focus primarily on summer from from the SJV.  We’ll soon cover the many vegetables coming into volume.

Stone fruit, led by peaches, plums and nectarines, are just getting underway from the southern part of the valley.

The consensus appear to be that around 40 to 43 million boxes of stone fruit will be shipped this year from the San Joaquin Valley, which would be pretty average when looking at the volume for the past five years.

California cherry shipments are building and hitting good volume just prior to the Memorial weekend (May 25-27).  However, winds damaged 40 to 50% of the early variety Rainier cherries around Bakersfield on May 5th.

There also was some wind damage to almond trees in the Bakersfield area.

Last year, California shipped a record 101.5 milion boxes of grapes.  The Coachella Valley, which is shipping now, accounts for 10 percent or less of this volume.  The rest comes from the San Joaquin Valley, starting with the Arvin District in late June.

Apple shipments, which took at 30 percent hit last year, are expected to return to normal this year.  Beginning in July, California apple shipments get underway, but this is minor (2 million boxes) compared to Washington state  (129 million boxes predicted).

Kern District

Located near Bakersfield, Kern County ships a lot carrots and potatoes, althouigh this time of the year you will get a better freight rate hauling more perishable items ranging from lettuce to stone fruit, grapes and berries.

Kern County potatoes shipments started about a week ago.  Due to so much over production of russet potatoes around the country, this variety has been reduced by up to 75 percent.  Russets have been replaced primarily with red, yellow and white potatoes.

When Kern County growers are not planting carrots or potatoes in their fields, they use bell peppers as a rotation crop.  Bell peppers loadings are just starting and building in volume, continuing until November.

Salinas vegetables – grossing about $5200 to Chicago.

California desert vegetables – about $7300 to New York City.


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California Seasonal Shipping Areas to Change

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The California coastal valleys of Salinas and Santa Maria typically remain the major sources of supply of lettuce through mid-October.   Huron, which is located on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, usually fills the lettuce supply gap in late October through much of November before harvest switches to the desert in California and Arizona. Some of the hardier items, such as broccoli and cauliflower, will continue in the Salinas area until the shift to the desert (California’s Imperial Valley and the Yuma, AZ area) around Thanksgiving.

There has been strong shipments of California vegetables since early summer.  A primary reason is the extreme drought in the Midwest and the upper Midwest, which knocked out some  home-grown crops.

Additionally, there was the hurricane that hit New Orleans and continued on through the South hitting Kentucky and Tennessee and knocking out some of those local tomato harvests. It all helped to benefit shipments of  California tomatoes.


Blackberry shipments are winding down on California’s Central Coast, but raspberries could go through the end of October.

Blackberries loadings tend to decline by the end of September and are finished by mid-October as the shipments out of Mexico pick up.

California strawberry and raspberry shipments have provided some problems for haulers over the summer. Both are more delicate fruit, especially raspberries.  Much of this can be blamed on the horrendous summer heatthan began in June and continued through most of August.  Good quality fruit results in more shipments (due to consumer demand), plus truckers deal with  fewer rejections. Obviously the quality of the fruit has improved since the heat has subsided.  The fruit holds up better when shipped.

Salinas area vegetables and berries – grossing about $4700 to Chicago.




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Trucks Tightening as Demand for Produce Loads Build

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California rates to the East Coast topped $9000 this week, at least from the Salinas Valley, where vegetable volume is really cranking up, plus there is building volume with the nearby Watsonville district strawberries and other berries.  Rates also have increased from other regions of California, ranging from the San Joaquin Valley, to Santa Maria and in the Southern part of the state.  Truck supplies have definately tightened up, but so far, my sources are reporting you can get a truck, if you’re willing to pay for it.

In Arizona, rates remain strong as Mexican melons and table grapes are moving in good volume across the border into the USA.

If for some reason, you are stuck in New Mexico, the new crop of storage onions from the Southern part of the state are now being shipped.  Rates are usually less on onions with a significant factor being you can haul them on flatbeds and other non-refrigerated equipment.

Texas remains active for produce loads, in large part thanks to Mexico.  There are a variety of  Mexican vegetables and tropical fruit crossing into South Texas.  The Lower Rio Grande Valley is shipping watermelons, although weather troubles has reduced loading opportunities there.  The Winter Garden District, just south of San Antonio is loading onions.

Salinas Valley vegetables, Watsonville berries – grossing about $9000 and more to Boston.

San Joaquin Valley stone fruit – about $4000 to Atlanta.

Nogales melons and grapes – about $5000 to Chicago.

New Mexico onions – $3000 to Chicago.

Texas produce – $3000 to Atlanta.


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Many California Districts are Shipping

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Whether talking the desert areas of the Imperial or Coachella Valleys, or Southern California to Ventura County, Bakersfield, and on to Santa Maria and Salinas, produce is being shipped.  Granted, not all the areas are in full harvest, but shipping areas are abundant.  It will only get better for produce haulers in the weeks ahead as demand for refrigerated equipment increases and rates climb accordingly.

In the desert, you’ll find bell peppers, beans and sweet corn in both the Imperial Valley and the Coachella Valley.  Cantaloupe loadings begin in a couple of weeks or so.  Also, the Coachella Valley ships the first domestic grapes in the U.S. each year.  Coachella grape loadings will begin a week to 10 days earlier than normal this year — around the first week of May.  Loadings should continue through June, with about 9 million cartons forecast.

California cherry shipments begin from the central and south areas of the San Joaquin Valley the first half of May, but expect shipments to be lighter than normal.  Heaviest cherry loading opportunities come with the later bing cherry variety from the Stockton-Linden-Lodi area.  Overall, unless Mother Nature does a whack job on these perishable beauties, California should ship 8.5 to 9 million boxes of cherries, the most in a decade!

California desert vegetables – grossing about $7200 to New York City.


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Huron Loads are Shifting to Salinas

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Produce shipments from the Huron District in the San Joaquin Valley, as well as loads out of the Salinas Valley have returned to normal following disruptions due to rain.  The seasonal transition of the lettuce harvest and loadings out of Huron are quickly shifting from Huron to Salinas.  Volume is building from the Salinas Valley, not only with lettuce, but other vegetables, and should become heavy in May.

 Here’s an update on San Joaquin Valley stone fruit shipments that get underway soon.  Both peaches and nectarines usally start by late April, with plums coming on in May.  Expect peach and nectarine loading opportunities this season to be off 20 percent due to hail.  There was a 20-mile-long swath of the storm cutting through from Southwest of Kingsburg going east to south of Dinuba and Reedly.  Shippers with stone fruit  orchards you may load with in this area were adversely affected the most.

Looking ahead to the Bakersfield, Kern County shipping area, potato shipping will get underway the second week of May with red, yellow and russet spuds.  This will be followed by watermelon loads becoming available in early June, while table grape shipments get started in early July…..Meanwhile steady shipments of carrots are continuing from this area.

Salinas Valley vegetables – grossing about $7000 to New York City.

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A Look at National Produce Shipments

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Supplies of refrigerated a equipment are tightening some as we get further into spring.   How big a shortage of trucks for hauling produce will be this year will start to reveal itself in the weeks ahead and should be really interesting by late May and onward through the summer.

In Florida, blueberry loadings from Central and North Florida are now in good volume and hauls are available into June….Meanwhile, Georgia “blues” are right behind Florida.  Good Georgia blueberry shipments should be available by next week….Back to Florida, rates for hauling watermelons out of the southern part of the state have jumped 20 percent in recent days.  Vegetable volume from Florida continues to be heavy.

In South Texas, vegetables continue to be loaded, combined with a lot of veggies and tropical fruit from Mexico crossing the border into Texas.  Cantaloupe shipments have started from the Rio Grande Valley.  There’s still no overall damage reports on storm-hit watermelons in South Texas.  There will be fewer loads, but who knows how much less?  Loadings are light, but will be increasing and continue into mid-June.

In California, the Imperial Valley is quieter with the seasonal end of vegetable shipments.  However, cantaloupe shipments will start in mid-May….About 300 truckload equivalents of carrots are being shipped weekly from the Bakersfield area.

Southern California continues to ship good volumes of avocados, strawberries and citrus…..The Santa Maria district, along with the Salinas Valley will become more active with produce shipments in the weeks ahead.

In Washington state, there are steady loadings of apples and pears from the Yakima and Wenatchee valleys.

Washington state apples and pears – grossing about $4200 to Chicago.

Southern California produce – grossing about $5000 to Chicago.

South Texas produce  – about $4800 to New York City.

South Florida veggies – about $3600 to New York City.



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Southern California Still has Best Volume

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Southern California continues to provide the best loading opportunities
although this will be gradually changing in the weeks ahead as volume from the San Joaquin and Salinas valleys continue to increase.  Helping to bridge the transition is the Santa Maria area found between Ventura County and Salinas.

Although about three-fourths of  California navel oranges have been shipped, loadings will continue until early July….Strawberry volume is building from Oxnard to Orange County and the San Diego areas.   Much ligher strawberry volume is now coming out of Santa Maria.  This district also is shipping light to moderate amounts of broccoli, cauliflower and a host of other vegetables.

Looking ahead, California peach shipments, as with so many other produce commodities, should get underway earlier than usual this year due to the mild winter and favorable spring.  Initial San Joaquin Valley peach shipments should start in mid-May, but volume loadings are not expected until early June.

Southern California produce – grossing about $6800 to New York City.  Rates often tend to show strength towards the end of the week as truck supplies are depleted.


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