Spring Training

Major League Baseball teams are starting to gather their players together for the upcoming season. One place that many teams come to for Spring training is in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Warm days, and mild nights are the things you notice right away, and desert vegetables are not far away. Yuma is only a few hours away and has the same kind of weather. So, we associate Spring training with the Spring vegetable time. Most items are REALLY starting to come on and, in particular, asparagus. It’s getting to be THAT time of year.
Long range weather for the next 10 days in the desert growing areas show highs getting into the high 70s and low 80s. More importantly, lows are in the high 40s to low 50s, which are out of the FREEZE territory.
Still plenty of trucks, and with fuel costs dropping a bit, rates are more flexible.

LETTUCE–plenty of lettuce, and size and weights are picking up. In fact, we are seeing some big, HARD heads that aren’t necessarily attractive on the shelf. We are after lettuce in the mid 40’s for weight and medium large head size. The market remains fairly flat.

BROCCOLI–good supplies of 14s, 18s, and crowns and the markets remain fairly flat. Quality mostly nice out of the desert, while product in the Salinas and Santa Maria areas are not as good. Purple cast and some water spotting showing up.

CAULIFLOWER–not much change here. Markets steady, as are supplies. We are seeing a few more 9 size and there could be some good deals there this week.

LEAF ITEMS–good supplies of green, red, boston, and romaine, and prices are steady to slightly lower. Quality improving daily, as we are slowly working out of the freeze-effected product from December and January.

CELERY–steady to slightly stronger on all sizes, especially on the smaller size 36s and 48s. Supplies coming out of Oxnard and the desert, making truck loading easy.

ASPARAGUS–as temperatures in the desert climb, so do supplies. Most everyone has shifted to 28/1# containers. Demand for grass hasn’t kicked in yet, so there are deals around that are being done for less than the “quoted” prices. Good item to push for the weekend.

STRAWBERRIES–dry, mild weather in the berry country of Oxnard and Los Angeles for the next 10 days, which should bring on supplies. In fact, Driscoll says they should double their numbers next week of what they are currently doing. Prices are still not close to Florida, but we DO have nice quality and should improve daily as long as it stays dry.

Slowing Trend

Now that the holidays are over, demand is sluggish.  The days are cold, causing slow growth for most items.   Desert temperatures remain cool, some nights are below freezing, and as stated before, can result in epidermal peel, blister and discoloration.   Demand has not picked up and markets are settling to where they normally are this time of year.  We are encouraging our customers to begin thinking about ads, especially with broccoli, cauliflower, head lettuce and romaine.
Plenty of trucks looking for loads.  Trucks rates are decreasing slightly, but mostly leveling out due to record high fuel costs.  Rates are much higher than last year because of this.
Forecasts show less rain in the coming days, giving us a chance to dry out.  Warmer temperatures are expected as well.

LETTUCE — Cold nights are definitely taking their toll on head lettuce, supplies are improving from last week, but we are still seeing quite a bit of epidermal peel, blister peel and discoloration.  Most of the problem is on the external leaves, shaving the heads at production and receiving levels  has helped, but continue to be aware of these problems that are typical for this time of year.

BROCCOLI — Sharp drops in the market, we saw the broccoli crown price drop by a few dollars overnight  late last week and adjustments had to be made.  Some discoloration has been found, a result of as little as one or two nights of freeze.  As we said before, expect discoloration and make it clear that it is an industry wide problem we are facing at the moment.

CAULIFLOWER — Very similar to the broccoli market, prices leveled out as cost exceeded demand.  Cauliflower is very affected by extreme elements, so there have been a few quality problems mostly with discoloration.  Shippers are NOT standing behind these problems, as they are also industry wide problems.  Some 9s are now available, however supplies are still light, as we are seeing more smaller sized cauliflower, once again, due to cold temperatures in the desert.

LEAF ITEMS– Still showing epidermal peel and other defects.  The leaf market has been gradually  slowing, warmer temperatures will significantly help growth of romaine, red and green leaf, hopefully the recent cold will be short lived.

CELERY — Still fairly steady, most sizes are ready and available. Production has mostly recovered after last week’s rains in Oxnard and the desert.  Expect prices to hold steady for now, production should increase as the temperature warms this week and next. Smaller sizes are more prevalent and shippers are looking to move.

STRAWBERRIES –Berries are trying to make a move but the cold temperatures are holding back production.  Santa Maria and Oxnard areas are staying dry, but the cold is still hindering color on the berries.  Shippers are not ready to promote just yet, but will have a better idea in the next coming weeks. For now, we just have to wait and see.