Posts Tagged “Wisconsin”

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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Thanksgiving Shipments on Some Items May be Less Than Normal

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Shipments of some Thanksgiving produce favorites could be light this year.

For example , in the Glades/Lake Okeechobee region of Florida the was excessive rains during plantings from mid-September to mid-October.  This may significantly reduce loads of green beans for the holidays, perhaps has much as 50 percent.  Also be on the look out for wind damage to some vegetable items such as green beans, due to winds from Hurricane Sandy.

Other growing regions  in south Florida will likely face similar reduced shipments.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potato sales have increased to the point where normal times of the years, sales are close to those around the holidays.

Mississippi sweet potato shipments are expected to be lighter for Thanksgiving because of weather factors.


In Massachusetts and Wisconsin cranberries loads may down 10 percent.  These two states account for the vast majority of fresh cranberry shipments.  Make sure companies paying for the freight are aware the berries are smaller than normal this season.

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Maine Potato Hauling Opportunities Should Be Better This Season

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Potato haulers should find the quality of Maine’s potato crop this year to be the best in a number of years. Last year, growers were plagued with too much water and a disease known as blight.

The Maine potato harvest was recently completed, which is always a race against finishing before the first hard freeze, which damage spuds remaining in the ground.  The majority of the state’s spuds are shipped throughout New England, the northeast and as far south as the mid-Atlantic states.

55,000 acres of Maine potatoes were harvested this year.  This is small in comparison the nation’s biggest shipper.  Idaho has increased its acreage by 25,000 every year for the past several years. This year, the state is reporting 345,000 acres. In 2011, it planted 320,000, and in 2010 it had 295,000 acres.

Idaho has increased in just two years the equivalent of the entire state of Maine’s production.

By comparison, Wisconsin has 63,000 acres, Colorado  and Maine are at 55,000, Minnesota 51,000, Michigan at 46,000, Oregon has 41,000, and New York 17,000 acres.

Added together, these states tally 332,000 acres, 13,000 less than Idaho alone produces.

Most of Maine’s potatoes are grown and shipped from Aroostock County, the state’s largest county.  It is the northern most county in the state and has a population of 71,482 as of 2011.  In the Native American language it means “beautiful language” and is aptly nicknamed The Crown of Maine, in part because of its location.

The potato is northern Maine’s primary agricultural product and in the 1940s Maine’s potato production was tops in the nation. By 1994 however, Maine had fallen to the eighth ranked potato producer and the seventh in the number of acres devoted to potato cultivation in the United States.

The number of acres of farm land devoted to potatoes has decreased in recent years because of rotational crops, conservation and fewer farmers. However, in the year 2000, Maine grew 63,000 acres of potatoes and nearly 90 percent of that was in Aroostook County.

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Central USA Produce Loads: North Dakota to Texas

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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.

Grand Forks, ND potatoes – about

Colorado potatoes – about $4000 to New York City.







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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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Wisconsin Cranberry Loadings to Increase in Weeks Ahead

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Thanksgiving will be here before you know it (November 22) and that means a lot of fresh cranberries will be shipped in the weeks ahead.

Wisconsin accounts for about 55  to 60 percent of the nation’s cranberry shipments, which includes not only fresh, but

Ray E. Habelman and Ray J. Habelman

processed, juices, etc.  The Badger state has about 20,000 acres of cranberry bogs.

Wisconsin produces over 4.3 million 100-pound barrels, while the nation as whole with produces over 7.2 million 100-pound barrels.

The fresh fruit side of the market is still a relatively small portion of the overall USA shipments, accounting for about 300,000 barrels.

A truckload of fresh cranberries typically amounts to about 42,000 pounds in a 53-foot refrigerated trailer, according to Nate Voit, general manager of Service Trans Inc., of Bancroft, WI.

Service Trans arranges about 7,800 loads per year, with about 99 percent of those loads requiring refrigeration. Nate says the company specializes in time sensitive shipments.  Of those 7,800 loads, about 800 are with cranberries.  Concerning the transportation of fresh cranberries, he describes it as different from most items.

“The cranberry shipments usually come on short notice, and it is high volume for a short period of time,” Nate says.

There are about a dozen growers in Wisconsin producing cranberries for the fresh market.  While cranberry shipments from Wisconsin have been underway for a few weeks, the real push will come about November 1st for Thanksgiving, according to Nigel Cooper, a principal in The Cranberry Network of Wisconsin Rapids, WI, who markets cranberrys for the nation’s largest fresh shipper, Habelman Bros. Co.

Although the big push is before Thanksgiving, the company started the tradition of extending the season to include fruit for the Christmas holidays.

Canadians celebrate their Thanksgiving each year in October (this year its October 8) and cranberry loadings destined for Candian markets are among the first each year.

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Wisconsin Potatoes Loads Coming, But be Aware of Quality Questions

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Wisconsin  ranks No. 4 in the nation for potato shipments an estimated 22.32 million hundredweight (cwt) of potatoes loaded last season.   The Badger state growers harvested 62,000 acres of spuds.  The harvest got under way in late August.

Crop quality concerns do exist across the state, and we have a long way to go to harvest conditions for storage,

If you are a produce hauler looking to transport Wisconsin potatoes for the 2012-13 season, there are some potential quality issues with which you should be aware.  This is essential to help avoid potential claims and rejected loads.

Warm temperatures may have triggered heat necrosis (resulting in death of plant tissue due to disease, etc.). Hot soils also may result in black heart (where internal plant tissues blacken).  Furthermore, insect damage [such as wire worm] has been seen that is also triggering defects.    You also need to watch for late blight.  Some early potato blight (a devastating disease of potatoes that caused of the Irish potato famine of the mid- 19th century) has been noted in early August, which is caused by cooler, wet weather.

Most Wisconsin potato shipments orginate from the central area of the state.  From Antigo to the Stevens Point area and southward around Bancroft and Friesland.


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Some Obvious, Not So Obvious Loading Opportunities

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Produce shipments from the Western half of the USA offer perishable haulers some obvious and not-so-obvious choices for obtaining loads.

Here’s some places you may not have considered.  New crops of potatoes are now available in some upper mid-western states.  The Big Lake, MN area is shipping both red potatoes and russets.  New crops of spuds have recently got underway from Central Wisconsin, Nebraska and Northern Colorado.

In Idaho and Malheur County, OR., loading opportunities have recently become available with a new crop of storage onions.  While the area is known for its onions, a few shippers are starting to offer sweet onions.  Just be aware that these shippers are new at this game and still may be on a learning curve relating to quality.  Sweet onions often do not store well.

In California, the heaviest volume from the Salinas Valley is with head lettuce, averaging about 1,100 truck load equivalents per week.  Many other vegetable items are also being shipped…..In the nearby Watsonville District, about 750 truckload equivalents of strawberriers are being loaded weekly.

Plenty of loading opportunities are coming from the San Joaquin Valley of California with stone fruit, veggies and grapes.  Heaviest table grape movement is from the southern valley area known as the Kern District, but volume is rapidly increasing from more northern areas of the valley.

An update on apple shipments from Washington state, shows it will account for 77 percent of the nation’as apple shipments during the 2012-13 shipping season.  Washington always leads the nation in this category, but with heavy weather related losses to apples in Michigan and New York state, the northwest will provide an even more than normal percentage of the country’s apple loads.  Washington expects to ship its second largest amount of apples in history; and this is despite a 10 to 15 percent crop loss due to hail storms earlier this year.

Salinas Valley produce – grossing about $7500 to New York City.

Big Lake MN potatoes – about $1300 to Chicago.

Central Wisconsin potatoes – about $2500 to Atlanta.



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Fall Loads: Cranberries and California Apples

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Triple digit heat in much of the country has finally broken and fall shipments of fresh produce are coming.  Two such items are fresh cranberries, that will be shipped from a handful of states, plus California apples that fill a niche between loadings of Chilean fruit and apples out of Washington state.

The third largest cranberry crop on record is being forecast by the USDA, amounting to 7.6 million 100-pound barrels.   While Massachuetts will be down slightly from last fall, increases are seen in Wisconsin, Washington state, Oregon and New Jersey (the latter being virtually all processed fruit).

Expect Wisconsin cranberry shipments to get started around the week of September 17th, with Massachusetts starting around that same time as well. Oregon and Washington state seasonally start later.

While loadings begin in September, cranberries are still closely associated with the Thanksgiving holiday.  Thus, the big volume is moved in the first half of November leading up to the holiday.  With this big a crop, some loads will be moving after Thanksgiving (which is November 22nd) for the Christmas holidays.

California Apples

A lot more California apples used to be shipped than are today.  This situation reminds me a bit of vegetables shipped from the Eastern Shore area of Delaware, Maryland and Viriginia.  This region is sandwiched in between harvests to its south such as the Carolinas and Georgia, and to the north in shipping areas such as New Jersey and New York.  If the Eastern shore veggies are too early or too late they are up against shipments from competing areas to the north and south of them.  As a result of many “misses” compared to “hits” for the Eastern Shore,  shippers have hurt.  The result is fewer shippers and less volume than a decade or two ago.

If you are a veteran trucker who has hauled apples from California, you may remember in the mid 1990s there were around 10 million boxes of fruit being shipped for the season.  Today, that number has dwindled to about 2.5 to 3 million boxes.  Most of the loads originate out the Central San Joaquin Valley including San Joaquin County, Sonoma County and Santa Cruz County.

Shipments will continue through December.  Leading apple varieties are fujis, galas and granny smiths.

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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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