Transition Nearly Complete

The move from Huron to Salinas is just about complete, and it couldn’t come soon enough! Transition time is ALWAYS an adventure, with some items starting, other items finishing, trucks arriving to pick up certain items, only to find out that the item they were scheduled to load is loading at the NEW location. We go through this TWICE a year, EVERY year, and we ALWAYS look forward to settling down for the long stretches. We are now in Salinas for just about all items, and will be until late Fall. We’re happy to be here.
The tree fruit deal is right around the corner. Cherries(Brooks) are starting this week in a light way, followed in a few more weeks with Tulares, then Bings. Early peaches start the end of this week, nectarines next week, then by the middle of May, we will be in full gear.
Long range weather shows that we are currently in a “mini-heat wave” that started yesterday, continuing today, and cooling to normal by Wednesday. This will be followed by a chance of showers in Central California by this weekend. Could be interesting with items such as strawberries and cherries.
Trucks are available, after the past 2 weeks of demand exceeds supply. One problem truckers are battling is the lack of WESTBOUND freight. This is due to the overall economic situation, and that makes it more difficult to get trucks to go back East at a decent freight rate.

LETTUCE–Huron is going to finish this week, and Salinas has already started. Where is the best quality? Well, the lettuce in Huron that is winding down is small, hard, and only so-so. The new lettuce in Salinas is greener and fresher, but has its share of problems, with internal burn and some decay, and light weights. The market is fairly active with the fob price for wrap 24s hitting close to $20 fob  last week. This week, we expect a weaker market now that retails are set high.

BROCCOLI–there is PLENTY of bunch 14s, 18s, and crowns available at rock bottom prices.

CAULIFLOWER–overall weaker market undertone, although there is still a fairly wide range in price on 9s and 12s. In fact, we are seeing as much as a $4.00/box spread in price between some shippers and the “preferred” labels.

LEAF ITEMS–we are starting to see better supplies of boston, green and red leaf, so we recommend you don’t load too heavily on those 3 items. Romaine market is down, so no problem there. Salinas will be the major area going now until the Fall.

CELERY–the desert is done, so Oxnard and Santa Maria are the 2 areas of choice for now. Some shippers are transferring supplies to Salinas for mixer loading, and are charging an extra $1.50-2.00/box to have that done. The market on just about all sizes is fairly weak, but now higher freight rates for trucks make the delivered prices of celery fairly high.

STRAWBERRIES-there are PLENTY of berries right now, and with this little heat wave we are having, more and more fruit should be coming on. But, we DO have a chance of rain forecasted for this weekend, which could cause some headaches if we get measurable amounts. This would be just in time for Mother’s Day. Ugh.

ASPARAGUS–continued light supplies and strong market, in spite of the fact that the major ads are done. Overall, the Stockton/Lodi Spring deal was fairly light in supply this year, and continue to be light. So, expect the market to remain steady.

Volatile Markets

With the strange weather patterns we have had(warm, then cold) and  water shortages in the San Joaquin Valley causing many fields to go un-farmed, we are really seeing volatile markets. When the weather warms, supplies come on, and the markets fall. When the weather turns cold, supplies fall off, and the markets jump. The past 2 weeks, with Easter business going, we reported demand exceeds supply and strong markets on just about all of the major vegetable items. This week, we expect to see continued active markets on lettuce and leaf, while broccoli, cauliflower, romaine, and celery are anticipated to be down. Of course, much depends upon retail prices. When prices are raised, demand certainly takes a hit, and prices fall.
Truck rates are certainly on their way  up. Easter is usually a “spring board” for truck rates as we get ready for heavier strawberry movement, which increases demand for trucks. Following this right around the corner, is the tree fruit, grape, and melon season, and rates climb to their yearly highs by mid-Summer.
Long range weather for the next 10 days, show cool temperatures for the next few days, but much warmer weather is forecasted for the weekend. No rain. In fact, we are just about OVER our rain season, until late Fall.

LETTUCE–still a very active market. The Huron deal has been a real chaotic one. First, there has been a water shortage, due to lower than average snow pack in the Sierras for the past 2 years(now THREE years!), so water districts have been rationing water in the San Joaquin Valley. As a result, growers didn’t plant much lettuce for the Spring. Along with that, cold temperatures in February made the lettuce VERY small. To the point that shippers say they are packing more than 50% 30 size. This is keeping demand and prices VERY strong for 24 size. We hear that this will be the case for the entire Huron deal, which will finish up within the next 2 weeks. Salinas is just barely getting going, so there could be a slight gap between the 2 areas with some shippers. Overall, though, we expect a BUMPY transition between Huron and Salinas.
BROCCOLI–supplies have really picked up, after the past 3 weeks of VERY light supplies, and virtually NO crowns. Now, we are seeing better supplies of bunch AND crowns. Along with that, the market has dropped to less than 1/2 of what it was 2 weeks ago. We will probably see this market bottom out this week, and perhaps rebound next week.

CAULIFLOWER–a real roller coaster ride. 3 weeks ago, supplies were abundant, and the market strong. These past 2 weeks, supplies have been light, and the market active. This week, retails are high, demand has fallen off, and prices are down. By this time next week, we could see prices double what they are today.

LEAF ITEMS–still light supplies of red and green leaf, especially green, and prices are still VERY strong and high. Romaine is fairly abundant, although we are seeing a pretty good range in the market there. This is one to shop around. Like head lettuce, supplies are light in Huron, and the transition to Salinas is going to be sporatic.

STRAWBERRIES–we got through Easter in fairly good shape, with supplies enough to go around, for the most part. A BIG factor was the East coast weather, which was lousy, and kept demand down. Supplies look to REALLY increase this next week, and there should be plenty of fruit to go around. The next big push will be for Mother’s Day, which is May 10th. Shipments for that to the East coast will start in 2 weeks.

ASPARAGUS– there were VERY light supplies for the Easter demand. The Easter push wasn’t much, fortunately. As we have stated in previous reports, with the economy the way it is, big ticket items such as asparagus take a back seat to consumer demand. So, shippers that think they have been thinking they will get $50 for a box of asparagus because they have light supplies, are dreaming.

CELERY–continued wide range in price, depending upon the shipper. The “preferred” shippers are still demanding $4-5.00/box more than the mostly market shippers. So, there are deals on celery, especially the larger sizes. We don’t see much change in the FOB prices for a while. To go with that, as freight rates start to climb, celery gets hit the hardest because of the heavy boxes, and higher “per packaged” costs. That, we feel, will keep the celery market down.

A Mess Out West

Between the transition from the desert to the northern growing districts, Easter pull, and cold weather, this past week and into this week is a virtual MESS. Just about ALL vegetables are tight in supply. Lettuce, green leaf, red leaf, romaine, broccoli, cauliflower, and strawberries are “demand exceeds supply” situation, and prices are going through the roof. As a side note, we see supplies being light with most of the vegetable items THROUGH the month of April. Although the East coast is done with their Easter pulls, there is still strong business going out this week for the Midwest and West coast receivers. Along with this, trucks are VERY tight and rates $500-1000 higher than where they have been. The reason for this isn’t just demand, but also the fact that there is little freight for West coast receivers. This is a sign of our economy.
Long range weather shows rain forecasted in Central and Northern California starting Tuesday and into Thursday.

LETTUCE–STRONG demand and VERY active market due to light supplies of 24 size lettuce in Huron and Salinas. We are hearing quotes of $20 FOB for lettuce today. Shippers are reporting more 30 size than 24 size. So, if you can use a smaller head, there are some deals out there. Some shippers, to avoid packing 30s are leaving a few more wrapper leaves on the head and making a 24. This makes for an UGLY 24.

BROCCOLI–continued light supplies and strong market, especially on crowns, of which there is little to NO crown material out there. We see light supplies of crowns for another 2 weeks.

CAULIFLOWER–this market has peak out. Although we saw some $20+ fob prices this past week, we expect retails to be pushed high, and business should slow. Keep in mind that supplies are light, so we may not see prices come down too far.

LEAF ITEMS–there are CRAZY prices out there on green and red leaf. Some shippers think they could get $20 fob this week. Romaine is strong, but not AS strong. This is another situation where we could see light supplies all month, and strong markets.

CELERY–a very WIDE range in prices here. The “preferred” labels, Dole and T&A are topping the markets with as much as $4-5.00/box HIGHER than some other shippers. They really don’t care. They are light, have a “captive” audience, and aren’t concerned too much what other shippers are doing.

ASPARAGUS–Easter business is done for East coast receivers, but Midwest and West coast customers are pulling through Thursday. That is keeping the market active. Still, when that business is done, we don’t see prices hanging on very long.

STRAWBERRIES–like asparagus, the honeymoon will be over for Easter action by Thursday, and then demand will fall off. We DO have rain forecasted for tomorrow through Thursday, which could upset things, depending how much rain we get.  Normally in April, our rain storms are less potent than early Winter months, so we don’t expect too much trouble. Still, Driscoll is pro rating 50% and HIGHER today, and probably for most of this week. Other shippers sit back and reap the last minute phone calls for fruit.

Transitions

Transition is in full swing, most of the shippers have made the change from Yuma to Huron, but not without difficulties.   This year we are seeing gaps in harvest, mostly in leaf and broccoli, shippers are frantically trying to get product out of the fields and into the coolers, but trucks are being held up for hours upon hours.  The only comforting thing to note is, as the days go on we will see better numbers out of Salinas and Huron.  Trucks are forced to make more pickups than usual, resulting in elevated tempers and overall confusion.  The weather has been very nice in Salinas area the past few days, and we should see volume pick up significantly on certain items.  Temperatures are expected to remain pleasant and no chance of rain until early next week.   Oxnard weather has been very accommodating the past few days, but a cooling trend is on the horizon for that region later this week.  Trucks are still available, but many trucks are now hauling strawberry loads, tightening supply and causing truck rates to rise $300 – $400 from this time last week.

LETTUCE — Lettuce is almost exclusively in Huron now.  Right from the get go we are seeing some okay quality as Huron gets started.  There have been a few quality issues such as internal decay,  normal for transition time, and will hopefully be short lived.  The last of the Yuma product is being loaded up, which ends up being mostly tired lettuce as the shippers clean out their coolers and close up shop for the year.

BROCCOLI — Very tight market, most shippers are sold out as we begin the week. Broccoli seems to have been hit the hardest in the transition production gaps and product is very difficult to get.  Yuma is finished up, putting all the strain on northern areas.  Because of overly cool days in Salinas, product has not come on as quickly as growers had hoped.  The true test will be the remainder of this week, luckily the past few days have  been warmer, but with forecasted temperatures in the low 60s for the end of this week, product may continue to be tight.  We will just have to keep our fingers crossed.

CAULIFLOWER — We are seeing slightly better availability as Salinas kicks into gear, but much like broccoli, things are still tight.  Demand has come off slightly, taking the strain off the transition harvest, but there is still a long way to go to catch up with normal numbers and take the market back down to where it should be.

LEAF ITEMS — supplies are still very scattered. Some shippers have red and green in the desert, and romaine in Huron. Others have green and romaine in Salinas, and red in the desert. Prices have inched up a few dollars from what they were this time last week,  product should be more readily available later this week, it would bee foolish for shippers to kill the market this early in the game, and with so much product in the field nearing maturity, but stranger things have happened.  Quality is looking okay, product is beginning to arrive east with little or no problems.

CELERY — Product is readily available, naked prices are staying at or below the 10 dollar range and not too much demand.  We don’t expect things to change much this week.  Celery is normally used to fill trucks if strawberries orders are not met, but this week has begun with plenty of fruit, so buyers are filling their trucks with berries instead of celery for Easter sales.

STRAWBERRIES — supplies picking up out of Oxnard, this weekend was nice and warm and plenty of fruit was colored up and harvested to meet demand this week.  There is still a wide range in price, of course Driscoll  is at the high end.  Easter business has begun and so far we are coming out ahead, however, Oxnard growing regions are expected to cool down over the course of the week, so even though we started off this week in a bang, supplies could begin to drop again as early as next week. Fortunately, there is no rain forecasted this week.

ASPARAGUS — The desert is finishing up this week, product is still strong overall, but mostly on the larger sizes.  There are always some defects this late in the game, but we have been happy with quality up to this point.  The Stockton/Lodi areas are seeing better numbers now and are taking larger orders and we are hoping they will be able to keep up with demand.

Transition Time

Here we go. As the desert enters its final weeks, many of the shippers start to move crews and equipment out of the desert growing areas to northern areas such as Huron, Oxnard, Santa Maria, and Salinas. Unfortunately, with items such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and various leaf items, we won’t know what area we will be picking up until the DAY we need to pick up. That really messes up the truck and the load. But, we go through this EVERY transition period, twice a year. Its just part of the produce business.
We had a bit of rain and wind over the weekend throughout California over the weekend, and the temperatures are very cool right now. But, long range shows gradual warming and little chance of rain for the next 10 days. That should get us through most of the Easter business pull, which would be a nice treat, for a change.
Plenty of trucks, although as we start picking up volume on strawberries, demand is starting to pick up, so we will see rates start to climb up a bit during these next weeks. The Easter “pull” starts this weekend, continuing into next week.

LETTUCE–a few shippers still going in the desert, but many have switched to Huron for the Spring. Actually, some shippers will start in Salinas next week. Quality is a real mixed bag. The desert lettuce is getting old and tired, while the new areas are showing some internal problems, as well as lighter weights and irregular head size. Again, its what we go through during transition times.

BROCCOLI–continuing battle with crowns. There just isn’t much crown material out there, even with all of the new areas going, including Salinas. We should see better numbers next week, but this week will be a tough go. We are seeing as much as an $8-10.00 SPREAD in price between bunch 14s and crowns.

CAULIFLOWER–light supplies continue, but demand has certainly fallen off. Retails have changed, and now demand is suffering for it. We are expecting warmer weather this weekend, so supplies should pick up, and the market should start coming down by this time next week.

LEAF ITEMS–supplies really scattered. Some shippers have red and green in the desert, and romaine in Huron. Others have green and romaine in Salinas, and red in the desert. Prices aren’t doing much, its just trying to put loads together that make “geographic sense” that is the problem.

CELERY–overall stronger market across the board, especially on the smaller sizes and hearts. Celery isn’t what it used to be for Easter, so we don’t see the market doing too much next week.

STRAWBERRIES–supplies picking up out West. But, there is also a VERY wide range in price. In fact, we are seeing as much as a $6.00/box SPREAD between Driscoll label and some lesser known brands. Easter business starts pulling this weekend, so we should see A LOT of berries shipped out these next 10 days. Fortunately, there is no rain forecasted, and slightly warmer days should help bring on more supplies.

ASPARAGUS–tough time of the season. The desert is finishing up this weekend, while the Stockton/Lodi areas are still trying to pick up some numbers. Currently, the market is fairly weak, but shippers are putting out HIGH lid prices starting this weekend and into next week’s big Easter pull. We’re skeptical about this Easter season. With the economy the way it is, we aren’t so sure that there will be the demand the shippers are hoping for. The lids they are giving out for Easter are $15-18.00//box HIGHER than the current market. So, the ads could fall flat. We’ll see.

Spring is Here

Officially, Spring begins this Friday. We think the WHOLE country is looking forward to this time of year. Warm, sunny days seem to help everyone’s attitude, thoughts, and general outlook. We certainly can use the shot in the arm for our economy. Let’s hope and pray that things will turn around SOON.
In the produce world, transition is upon us. We are seeing shippers wind down their Winter deals in the desert areas, and are now looking to move northward to areas such as Bakersfield, Huron, Oxnard, Santa Maria, and, yes, Salinas. Still we are figuring our trucks to continue to load the majority of the vegetables in the desert for this week, then the scattering begins. Again, as we mentioned last week, keep that in mind  when figuring your trucks. For East coast destinations, add another day’s worth of loading to your arrival schedule because of the different areas involved.
Long range weather in the desert shows days creeping up into the low 90s, while the Central Coast is trying to warm up as quickly as possible to begin the Spring deals.
Plenty of truck to all areas of the country.

LETTUCE–market a bit stronger. The desert supplies are winding down and that is making for a stronger market, even though demand is only fair. Huron will just get started this weekend, then most everyone will be going there by next week. We could see the shippers push this market as this week goes as supplies continue to lighten up. Quality is a bit variable. As the desert deal finishes, we are seeing more “tired” lettuce, with some decay and discoloration showing up on arrival. Typical for the end to ANY deal. We advise that you don’t hold lettuce, and move as quickly as possible.

BROCCOLI–a HOT market right now. Supplies are really dropping off fast in the desert, and the new areas are not producing as rapidly as we would like to see. ESPECIALLY on crowns!  We see light supplies of crowns for the next few weeks, and there could be a REAL spread in the market between bunch and crowns.

CAULIFLOWER–a gap here, as well. Heavy supplies were pumped out these past 2 weeks, and now there is a gap. Also, the desert is finishing up, and Salinas and Santa Maria aren’t picking up the slack. We could see shippers push this market to $20 fob this week.

LEAF ITEMS–still plenty of red, green, and romaine in the desert, then falling off rapidly starting next week.

CELERY–still plenty of larger size 18s and 24s, while the smaller size 36s and 48s are very tight, especially with the “preferred” labels, such as as Dole and T&A. The market is still reasonable, especially compared to where prices have been this whole year, so celery is still a bargain.

ASPARAGUS–still plenty of supplies at decent prices. The Easter business starts in 2 weeks, then demand will jump. By that time, the desert will be all but finished, so the Stockton/Lodi areas, along with Salinas, will be the major players.

STRAWBERRIES–Florida still the place to be for supplies, with California still trying to get some numbers. We WILL have a REAL battle for Easter. With that holiday falling on April 12th, and pulls starting around the 3rd, Florida will be basically done, and ALL the pressure will be on California to deliver the Easter business. We are here to say, its going to be a MESS!! California simply WON’ T have the numbers. It’s just too early. We usually don’t nave decent volume until after the 10th or so, of April. Book your orders now, and EXPECT to be cut!

Transition Time Fast Approaching

It seems hard to imagine, but the shippers are already talking about moving from the Winter desert deals to the northern areas of Huron, Santa Maria, and Salinas. We are looking to see some items moving as early as next week. Items such as broccoli, cauliflower, and some assorted mixed items will be available in the “new” areas. Items such as lettuce, leaf, green onions, celery, asparagus, and other mix items will continue in the desert through March, then move on up. It is important to know that as we do move northward into the new areas, truck rates start going up, and the pickup time gets longer, meaning, you need to allow another day to get your mixers loaded. To give you an idea, it is approximately 8 hours CLOSER to get to the East coast loading out of the desert than loading out of Salinas.
Long range weather in the desert growing regions show highs in the low 80s, and lows in the 50’s, all normal for this time of year. Also, no rain forecasted in the berry growing regions of Oxnard, Los Angeles, and Santa Maria for the next 10 days.
Trucks are readily available, and rates continue at their season lows. Fuel prices are starting to inch upwards, which will be driving prices up. A month from now, we could see diesel prices up considerably, which will certainly affect truck rates.

LETTUCE–firm market. Prices jumped a bit last week, and the shippers are taking the same approach today. We’ll see how demand shapes up as retail prices are changed. There is enough lettuce in the desert, although not “overly heavy”, so we may not see the market come down much this week, if it does at all. As mentioned above, supplies should continue another 2 to 3 weeks, then move towards Huron.

BROCCOLI–still plenty of bunch 14s and 18s, while crowns are a bit more scattered. Some shippers report NO crowns, while others have them. As as result, we are seeing more of a wider range in the crown market. Supplies are starting to pop up in Salinas and Huron, as well as still going in the desert areas.

CAULIFLOWER–pretty strong market. Even though there is a range in price, the “range” is fairly high. We want to wait to see what retails are doing before we get an idea where the market will be heading. Supplies aren’t overly heavy, so, any increase in demand may push the price up rapidly. On the other hand, because supplies aren’t heavy, we don’t see prices coming down too far, if the demand slips.

LEAF ITEMS–steady on red, green, and romaine. We should have continued supplies in the desert the rest of this month, and into the first 2 weeks of April, then moving northward.

CELERY–celery continues to slip in price, and should bottom out this week. The desert has been a big factor here. There has been quite a bit of Mexican celery in the past month that has contributed to the market slide. We don’t see much change in celery for a few weeks. Now that it is close to the bottom, it can only do one of 2 things–either stay there, or go up.

STRAWBERRIES–Florida is finally seeing better supplies this week, after a MESS last week. California is trying to pick up volume, and it is slow coming. The rains we had the past 3 weeks wreaked havoc with the berry fields, damaging the young fruit and knocking off blooms. It will be another 2 weeks of no rain before we get some good numbers in Oxnard and the rest of Southern California.

ASPARAGUS–the desert is still going, but the shippers look to finish by the end of this month, or by the 10th of April, depending upon the weather. The new areas of Stockton and Lodi are barely starting, and won’t be a factor for another 2 weeks. Easter business is not that far off.

Marching into March

When you think of March, what comes to mind? If you’re like most guys, it HAS to be March Madness. Other than that, St. Patrick’s Day, and the beginning of Spring. For produce, we are sort of waiting for Easter business and the Spring strawberry season.
Long range weather for the desert growing regions show warmer days and nights, which should help bring on supplies. The strawberry regions of Oxnard and Santa Maria are showing continued patterns of rain every few days, which is just enough to keep the supply chain uncertain. Along with this, the long range weather for most of the East coast shows the big time Nor-Eastern hitting as of this writing, but clearing up after that. Because of that, business is messed up today and into tomorrow, but looks okay after that.
Trucks plentiful and rates are negotiable.

LETTUCE–a fairly wide range in price today. Some of the preferred labels have pushed their markets, but are secretly asking why? Demand is only fair, at best, so raising their prices doesn’t make sense. We don’t see this market hanging on.

BROCCOLI–good supplies of bunch 14s, 18s, and crowns, and prices are reasonable.

CAULIFLOWER–shippers pushed this market too high, and now we are seeing a wide range in price, indicating to us that the overall market is getting ready to come down. This is one that you only want to buy what you need, and not get overloaded.

LEAF ITEMS–not much change in price for red and green leaf, but romaine is very active. The salad folks are going heavy and are taking much of the romaine out there for their bag business. That puts pressure on the carton business and the shippers are forcing that market upward.

CELERY–this market has really crashed in the past week. Prices have fallen nearly 1/2 of what they were this time last week. However, prices now have certainly bottomed out, and as we have preached in the past, when the market comes off this much this fast, prices usually go lower than they should, and then firm back up. We may see that happening this week, especially on the larger size 18s and 24s. Keep that in mind.

STRAWBERRIES–we are in a fairly wet pattern in the berry country of Oxnard and Los Angeles. Again, we stress that it IS March, and we normally aren’t a factor for supplies until April. Again as mentioned, we see rain off and on for the next 10 days, and that will keep supplies and quality messed up.

ASPARAGUS–believe it or not, the desert deal has already PEAKED with their supplies! As long as the weather doesn’t get too hot in the desert, we will grass available throughout this month, and then switch to the Stockton/Lodi area after that.

Warmer Weather = Better Supply

The Yuma area has been producing good quality product for the time being.  Desert temperatures are heating up with highs in the low 80s, and the lows are not going below the 50s.   Thankfully we see no more threat of freeze this year according to normal temperature averages.  With shippers still ahead of schedule, we have seen some planting gaps, ultimately resulting in lighter supply of certain items, but the hope is that warmer growing temperatures will stimulate plant development.  Long range weather shows steadily climbing temperatures into the mid 80’s in the desert this week and slowly dropping into the mid 70s next week.  There is no rain in the forecast for the next 10 days, which should keep quality and harvesting issues minimal.  Plenty of trucks looking for loads and rates are some of the lowest we have seen in over a year.

LETTUCE– Supplies are adequate for the moment, but we may see lighter supplies and stronger overall market later this week, and eventually leveling out as supply corrects itself. Weights are slightly lighter but there have been very few quality issues other than that.

BROCCOLI– Currently there is plenty of bunch broccoli and crowns available at competitive prices.  Broccoli supply will possibly lighten up later this week and into next as a result of planting gaps.   Compared to Santa Maria and Oxnard, there is better overall quality in the desert, and deals are out there.

CAULIFLOWER–Plenty of deals out there.  More 12 sizes available than any other size.  Prices vary from shipper to shipper, a good item to shop around.  Weather is warming up in Yuma so we will see more product and larger sizes as the week goes on.

LEAF ITEMS– Tight supplies as we enter the week. Demand has been high, production has to catch up.  FOB prices remain high but should level out toward the end of the week as the warm weather brings on more product.

CELERY–Prices have peaked and are falling daily. The shippers pushed their prices to the breaking point, and now retails are set high, and business has stalled. We should see prices drop industry wide toward the middle of this week.  There is plenty of celery around, coolers are full and deals are out there.

STRAWBERRIES– Oxnard is still getting a good shot of rain.  This is keeping production at very minimal levels.  Florida is still seeing its share of misfortune, and is seeing wide gaps in production because of the freeze last month.  With Florida’s production being down, there has been more demand for fruit out of Yuma, keeping prices high. The good news is supplies are beginning to catch up with demand as product continues to come out of Baja and we should see prices level out and possibly drop.

ASPARAGUS–Very tight supply right now. Cooler weather has been the big factor.  The largest shippers are only 60% of normal production for this time of year.  Shippers are overcommitted at the moment and not taking on any new business.  There are still some advertising possibilities, shippers are betting on the fact that the weather is getting warmer in the Imperial Valley and Mexico, which will improve production all around and hopefully bring us up to normal supply.

Markets Picking up

With cooler weather in the desert, and the East coast starting to thaw out, overall business on most of the vegetable items are starting to pick up. And with that, the shippers are starting to push their markets upward, Items such as cauliflower, lettuce, celery, and some of the leaf items are all showing slightly higher prices. The desert DID get some rain over the weekend, so harvesting is slow today, as the muddy fields are making it difficult to get equipment in and out of the fields. We aren’t sure how high these markets will go, but expect the shippers to push for every dollar they can.
Long rang weather in the desert shows another chance of rain by this weekend, but fairly cool all week. This won’t help product to come on.
Trucks are plentiful, and rates have bottomed out for the Winter, it appears. Most truckers just won’t haul if the load pays less than their costs. In fact, many truckers aren’t even bringing out trucks to the West coast because it isn’t paying to do so. Not to mention the fact that with the economy, there isn’t a whole lot of product to haul out West OR East.

LETTUCE–stronger market here. Prices on palletized and wrap are up $1-2.00/box over last week, and we could see the shippers push for more as the week progresses. We aren’t sure how much higher the lettuce market will go, but perhaps another dollar may do it.

BROCCOLI–wide range in price, with as much as a $2-3.00/box spread in the market for bunch and crowns. Over all, crowns are fairly strong because there isn’t a whole lot of crown material out there. This item is worth shopping around for.

CAULIFLOWER–as we mentioned last week, we forecasted higher prices for this week. Supplies are definitely down, and shippers are already pushing their prices on all sizes of cauliflower. We could possibly see prices jump another $2-4.00 by the end of this week. Forecasted cooler weather won’t help bring on supplies.

LEAF ITEMS–prices starting to jump around a bit. Some shippers are steady today, while others are looking for more money. Some of this has to do with the rain over the weekend that has slowed harvesting, but with the cooler weather, we could see overall prices up a bit as this week goes.

CELERY–market even stronger than last week. Oxnard got a pretty good shot of rain last week that had slowed production. They are also forecasted for more just about every day off and on for the next 10 days, so that won’t help. We see prices remaining VERY firm all of this week, and maybe even stronger, depending upon how much rain Oxnard gets. The desert is going, but supplies aren’t overly heavy there.

STRAWBERRIES–California will basically be a NON FACTOR for a while. February is generally one of our WETTEST months of the year, so we usually don’t count on California to be much of a factor for berries during this month. In fact, it isn’t until April that we start going strong. Florida looks pretty good, weatherwise, for the next 10 days, although there is some rain forecasted off and on. At any rate, even though there are some berries coming out of Mexico, don’t count on California for berries for a while.

ASPARAGUS–supplies not overly heavy, but neither is demand. We are looking to start promoting grass starting in another week, or so, and through the Spring.