Memorial Day Business

One thing we can say about this Memorial Day weekend, as far as business is concerned, is, WE’VE SEEN BETTER! A combination of the poor East Coast weather, our overall slow economy, and folks staying home, all have added up to a sluggish forecast for this coming weekend. Of course, it could turn out to be better than anticipated, and fruits and vegetables could be flying off the shelves by this weekend. Right now, though, most retailers are bracing for slow sales.
Long range weather in the growing districts of Salinas for vegetables and berries, and into the San Joaquin Valley for tree fruits and grapes, show seasonal normal forecasts for the next 10 days, so product should continue unabated.
Truckers are looking at their calendars and thinking, “hey, its time to push up truck rates!” They actually started thinking that last week, and made all efforts to do that. Their push didn’t happen because of the slow business. In fact, this week appears to be looking sluggish for business, as well, and rates may not take their big Summer jump this week either.

LETTUCE–plenty of product, and prices are getting close to the floor. As mentioned before, May is “lettuce month”, and there couldn’t be a better time to promote. Quality is nice, prices are low, and sales are waiting!

BROCCOLI–stronger market on both bunch and crowns. Crowns, in particular, are a bit tighter, and shippers have pushed their prices up $2-3.00/box over last week. We aren’t sure how long this will last because sales are not that brisk. So, this could be a short lived price hike, and we could see prices drift back down by this weekend.

CAULIFLOWER–another roller coaster ride. Shippers are light and forcing the market up. In fact, they are almost double the market from last week at this time. But, as they push up their prices, retails are going up, and sales will start to drop off. We suggest not ordering too heavily.

LEAF ITEMS–romaine, green, and red are all drifting downward, and, like head lettuce, heading for the floor. More local leaf is showing up, and it won’t be long before the East coast is covered with local leaf. Still, with prices low, and nice quality out here, we are pushing  product from Salinas.

CELERY–not much change. Fob price are down a bit, except for the “preferred” labels, but delivered prices are holding firm because of freight rates. Once truck rates start to spike up, delivered prices will too.

–Memorial Day, which is just about the last big berry holiday(4th of July should be decent), wasn’t a real barn burner. Plenty of fruit around, and prices were low. Even Driscoll didn’t do much pro rating! We should have ample supplies for a while, unless the weather turns hot or cold, or both!

Ideal Weather Adds up to More Produce

Weather in May in California can either be too hot, too cold, or just right. The weather forecast for the state for the next 10 days show JUST RIGHT. Salinas, where most of the vegetables are currently coming from, forecasts low to mid 70s for highs, lows in the 50s. The San Joaquin Valley, where the tree fruit and grapes are coming from, has 80s and 90s expected for highs, and lows in the 60s. For both of these areas, that is IDEAL for growing. Because of this, we see A LOT of product coming on in these areas. With that, especially for the vegetable scene, we see markets coming down.  The fruit deal is trying to get volume going, and this is just what the doctor ordered.
Plenty of trucks available, and rates are still hanging in there. Once Memorial Day business hits, and that will be as early as this weekend for East coast loading, we should see rates begin their Summer climb upward.

LETTUCE–May is “lettuce month”, and the heaviest producing month of the year. LOTS of ads are rolling this month, and quality is much better than where it has been, and prices are coming down. So, this is a good time to cash in.

BROCCOLI–continued wide range in price here. Last week, we saw as much as a $5.00/box spread in the market on crowns. We are starting out this week the same, but we expect ALL shippers looking for business by the end of this week, so that price gap will shrink. There should be plenty of broccoli for the next few weeks.

CAULIFLOWER–this past week was another example of the “roller coaster” ride we often see with cauliflower. The shippers pushed their prices higher than they should have because of their light supplies, and are now anticipating heavier supplies this week. They pushed prices up and retails stopped, so now its going to be tough to get customers interested in cauliflower. Because of this, we expect to see prices drop quickly this week, so don’t order too heavily.

LEAF ITEMS–we are anticipating heavier supplies of all leaf–romaine, green, red, and boston. The markets on green, red, and boston have been active the past few weeks, and shippers are fighting to hold their prices. We don’t see them able to do that. Expect a steady price drop on just about all leaf items this week.

CELERY–a real wide price range here. The “preferred” labels are commanding a premium price, which is as much as a $5-6.00/box over a “mostly” market type label. If you have GOT to have Dole or T&A, expect to pay the piper. Otherwise, there are deals out there.

STRAWBERRIES–we expect to see A LOT of berries coming on this week and next. This will be just in time for Memorial Day business, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Berries will be competing with cherries, peaches, nectarines, and grapes for the picnic business, so there could be some deals out there on “volume” business.

Product Shortage

All of a sudden in Salinas, where most of the vegetable items are coming from, there are shortages of broccoli, cauliflower, romaine, green leaf, strawberries, and other mixed items. The reasons for these shortages vary from, rain and humidity over the weekend causing quality problems, record heat for 4 days two weeks ago, to cold and strong winds in mid April causing problems. Add all of these issues up, and that is where we are. Needless to say, the shippers are pushing their markets up as high and as fast as they can. With lousy weather in the East, demand is only fair for most items, so these market increases may hit a wall.
Long range weather in the growing areas of central California show a chance of rain through tomorrow, then clearing and warmer as the week progresses. The central valley of California, where the tree fruit and grapes are coming from, is slowly warming up, which will help bring on the Summer fruit season.
Trucks are available for all areas of the country, and truckers are looking to push their prices up just as fast as they can. It will still be a few weeks before the tree fruit supply and demand pick up, so rates should be slow to climb until then.

LETTUCE–light supplies and firm market. Prices were higher last week, and look about the same going into this week. Shippers don’t indicate that their volume will pick up anytime soon, so we expect steady to strong markets for lettuce. The heat 2 weeks ago really nailed the young lettuce, and we will see effects from that heat for many weeks to come.

BROCCOLI–after 3-4 weeks of heavy supplies of bunch and crowns, fields have dried up, and now there isn’t much broccoli around. So, as you can expect, the shippers are pushing prices up as fast as they can. We expect prices to get stronger as the week goes.

CAULIFLOWER–very light supplies, and very active market. Fields got hurt by the heat spell, and much volume was lost.  We anticipate a strong to stronger market this week.

LEAF ITEMS–continued light supplies of green leaf, red leaf, boston, and now, romaine. Again, a combination of the heat, wind, cold, and now rain is making the leaf business a real struggle. This small shot of rain we got, combined with some humidity, is causing some decay and mildew problems, which is hurting production, as well. ALL leaf item markets are active, and looking so all week.

CELERY–stronger market here, too. Supplies are coming out of Oxnard, and prices are going up on all sizes. Shippers are also transferring celery to Salinas to load with the mixer loads, and are adding an additional $2.00//box to get that done.

STRAWBERRIES–a real mess out here. Fortunately, the East coast got most of their Mother’s Day needs out last week, while this week it is a few Midwest orders and West coast business to finish up with. With the bad weather in the East, Mother’s Day may not be all that is anticipated for, but there are FEW berries on the road now due to the rain over the weekend.

Mother’s Day Push

This week’s shipments start the Mother’s Day push. Deliveries to the East coast will start loading today, through the weekend, and will continue until this time next week, when the West coast will start their shipments. The one BIG item for Mother’s Day, of course, is strawberries. This is the biggest pull week for berries, second only to Easter week. The key to the success of strawberries is the weather. How nice or how bad the East coast is will determine the DEMAND, and how nice or how bad the weather is in the strawberry shipping areas will determine the SUPPLY. As it stands now, the weather from shipping point shows cool, below normal temperatures forecasted for the next 10 days, but no rain. That means supplies will be DOWN, with likely pro rates. The East coast shows rain forecasted starting later this week for 4-5 days, so demand could be DOWN. How will this play out? Stay tuned.
Trucks are available, but rates are continuing their slow climb upwards, in typical fashion towards the Summer high demand.

LETTUCE–cool weather in Salinas slowing production, and supplies continue light. This is keeping the market very strong. In fact, some shippers are talking about raising their prices this week. Demand isn’t necessarily strong, so we aren’t sure if the shippers can sustain it if they go up in price. We are pretty much in Salinas and Santa Maria for all head lettuce now, and quality is starting out just so-so. Small, light weights, some internal problems, but the lettuce is green and fresh, and should hold up at store level.

BROCCOLI–slightly stronger market undertone. There was A LOT of broccoli shipped out the past 2-3 weeks, and the market has been on the floor. It stands to reason that the market HAS to get better.

CAULIFLOWER–with cooler temperatures, the roller coaster ride that accompanies the cauliflower market, is on the way up. Supplies are much lighter than they have been for 2 weeks, and the shippers are raising their prices. We expect them to continue to push the market this week.

LEAF ITEMS–lighter supplies of boston, red, and green leaf, and prices are higher on those items. You could see $20+ for green and red on the East coast. Romaine is fairly active, but not as high priced as the other leaf items. However, we do expect the romaine market to get stronger. The heat wave we had last week hurt the young leaf fields, and romaine, in particular.

CELERY–stronger market on ALL sizes. Mexico is done, and Oxnard and Santa Maria are the only areas going. Supplies are lighter than expected, so, while demand isn’t necessarily strong, shippers are nevertheless able to push their prices. Keep in mind that freight rates are going up, which adds even more to the delivered prices of all items, but celery the most.

STRAWBERRIES–in the above preamble, we noted that cooler weather is starting to hurt the volume of berries. With the strong demand for Mother’s Day, there will certainly be pro rates, especially from Driscoll. But, some rain is forecasted for the entire East coast starting later this week, which could effect demand. The jury is still out.

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!