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.

Desert Weather Warmup Up

As we look ahead to the weather in the desert for the next 10 days, we see highs approaching 80 degrees, and nights in the 50s. This sounds good, in that it should bring on product more rapidly. But, in talking to many of the shippers, they are saying that they are 2-3 weeks AHEAD of schedule. This means that we could see gaps in product during the next month. We are starting to see that already with romaine, for instance. Some shippers are very light to being out for days at a time.
Trucks are plentiful, and rates are at the bottom for the year.
Long range weather in the desert, as we mentioned, is slowly climbing their temperatures, and the threat of freeze is about over for the year there. Long range weather in our area of Salinas and Central California shows rain, rain, rain. We have been complaining how we are in a drought period and how we NEED the rain. Well, we are getting it, and are thankful for it.

LETTUCE–lighter supplies and stronger market, overall. There is, however, a slight range in price, depending upon the area in the desert and the shipper. Quality is variable, as well. Weights are running around 40-44#, size is medium to medium-large, and heads are puffy to firm. A mixed bag.

BROCCOLI–a range in price here, too. Some shippers aren’t packing ANY crowns, while others have them. Some have few bunch 14s and 18s, while others have them. So, it is worth shopping around for the best deals. Supplies are mostly in the desert, although Santa Maria and Salinas have some product at generally lower prices. But, with the rain we have had lately, the desert is probably the best for quality.

CAULIFLOWER–also a pretty good range in price. Retails are set fairly high, and now demand is only so-so. Some shippers are light in supply, while others have product. Shop around for this one, as well.

LEAF ITEMS–romaine has hit a supply gap. The salad guys are taking much of the product, leaving lighter supplies for the cartons users. This has allowed the shippers to push this market up, and they are taking advantage of it. We are seeing prices $4-6.00 higher than last week at this time. Red, green, and boston aren’t as active, although green is $2-3.00 higher than last week.

CELERY–still a crazy market. We, however, feel things have peaked out, price-wise. The shippers pushed their prices to the top, and now retails are set high, and business has stalled. Still, with the rain in Oxnard, where much of the celery is coming from, we don’t see prices falling much because of slow production and harvesting. Maybe a dollar or so down across the board.

STRAWBERRIES–rain has virtually halted production out of Oxnard and Southern California. There are still berries available out of Mexico that are crossing in San Diego, Yuma, and McAllen, Texas.

ASPARAGUS–better supplies coming on, and lower prices. Also, with some 80’s for highs coming this week, that will also help the growth and supplies. Good item to advertise. They NEED lower prices here for good retails. With the economy the way it is, asparagus is ONE item the shopper can do without.

Looking for Business

Now that the weather in the desert growing regions have started to warm up, and product is coming on more rapidly, shippers are REALLY out there looking for business on just about all commodities. Prices are “negotiable” with items such as lettuce, leaf, romaine, broccoli, and cauliflower. Unfortunately, the weather on the East coast remains, for the most part, cold and wet. This makes for slow business, and makes us all look forward to Spring. On top of that, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, and we have 6 more weeks of Winter. How can one little ground hog have SO much power?
Long range weather in the desert growing areas show continue gradual warming days and warming nights.
Trucks are plentiful, and rates are flat. With the slow business across the country, it is no wonder.

LETTUCE–slow demand on palletized and wrap, and prices are just about on the bottom floor. We don’t see much of a change here until demand picks up, so, for now, this is a good item to promote. Quality is mostly good, although size is mostly medium and weights aren’t overly heavy.

BROCCOLI–slow demand and weak market. Here is another item that would be good to advertise, either bunch 14s, 18s, or crowns. Supplies in Santa Maria, Oxnard, or the desert.

CAULIFLOWER–like broccoli, little demand, and prices are low. However, once shippers start to catch up on their fields, they will push their prices. This could happen by this time next week. Again, now is a good time to promote.

LEAF ITEMS–no change on red, green, romaine, and boston. Demand is only fair on all leaf items, and prices are flat. Supplies mostly coming out of the desert, although there are some supplies in Oxnard and Santa Maria areas.

CELERY–this is one item that is hanging in there, for the most part. We are seeing as much as a $10 SPREAD in price, depending upon the the shipper and area. The “preferred” labels, Dole and T&A are commanding these higher prices, and are getting them! You try to tell them what the REAL market is, and they don’t care.

STRAWBERRIES–not much change here. Supplies continue to be fairly light in the Oxnard area, which is normal. We aren’t SUPPOSED to have berries in California in January. We are suppose to have rain! But, rainfall has been very light, to this point, although, we are forecasted for some later this week. For now, though, quality is very nice with the Oxnard, and most Southern California berries.

ASPARAGUS–supplies continue to pick up in the desert, and shippers are looking for business. We anticipate asparagus to be a very interesting item as time goes on this Winter and Spring. With the economy being so bad, asparagus is sure to be low on the shopping list with most consumers.

Markets Settling Down

Now that the weather has started to settle down in the desert growing regions, with gradual warming days and less chance of freezing nights, the markets are following right along, and starting to settle down. Supplies on most commodities are increasing and that is the reason for the declining markets. Put that together with the fact that there is NO business out there, and, there you go.

Long range weather shows temperatures climbing in the desert growing areas, with highs closing in on 80 degrees. The real key are the nighttime temperatures. Two weeks ago, they were in the mid-30s, and now we see for the next 10 days only in the mid-40s to low 50s.
Trucks are plentiful to all areas of the country, and as  the fuel costs seem to be bottoming out, the rates are also bottoming out.

LETTUCE–not much action out there, and the market is coming down. Last week at this time we were paying close to $20 fob, and today, we are about 1/2 of that. The quality of much of the lettuce is only fair. Lots of puffy, lighter weight, irregular head size. Along with that, there are still some effects of the freeze, with some epidermal peel and blister. Most of this is on the outside wrapper leaves, but it IS there.

BROCCOLI–market drifting down. We are starting to see more crowns available, and the wide range in the market that we saw last week, is shrinking. Most of the supplies are in the desert areas, but there is product available in Santa Maria and Oxnard, as well.

CAULIFLOWER–demand has come to a screeching halt. Shippers pushed their markets way too high last week and killed the demand. Nothing new. They do this all the time, and get the same results. Right now, they can’t sell the product, and there are some great deals out there, if you can put together last minute deals.

LEAF ITEMS–no change. Even when the head lettuce market was doing its thing last week, the markets on red, green, and boston didn’t do much. Romaine was a bit active, mainly due to quality issues cutting into supplies. This week, we don’t see any of the leaf items doing much and should stay steady.

CELERY–this market is FINALLY coming down. Bear in mind that this time last week, the market for large size celery was getting close to $30 fob. Today, we are already seeing quotes as much as $10 LESS than that. This is mainly on the smaller size 36s and 30s. 24s and 18s are still a bit stronger, but are coming down, as well. We don’t have a true grasp on the celery market, and how low it will go. It usually goes lower than it should, and then firm back up.

STRAWBERRIES–we had a pretty good shot of rain over the weekend in the berry country, but that didn’t seem to effect the market. Florida is pumping out some pretty good numbers and taking care of most of the East coast needs. California isn’t usually a factor in January OR February, anyway. Still, we have some excellent quality out here.

ASPARAGUS–desert shippers starting to pack the 28/1# cartons. This is always a sign that supplies are increasing, and they are. Good time to start looking for ads.

Desert in Full Swing

Even though we have been loading much of the Winter vegetables in the desert areas of Coachella Valley, Imperial Valley, and Yuma areas for the past month, we were missing 2 items from a full arsenal, and those were strawberries and celery. We are now getting both of those items crossing from Mexico, giving us a full plate of product available to load in those areas. That certainly helps with loading of trucks, allowing us to get better freight rates and getting the trucks out in a more timely manner.
The weather for the next 10 days in the desert areas show gradual warming and NO freeze. As we get deeper into January, the threat of freeze becomes less and less. So far, as we have reported, there have been a few days that we have experienced freeze and basically very little effects on product, with a few touches of epidermal peel, blister, and discoloration. This Winter, compared to most Winters in the past have been relatively MINOR. The weather for the next 10 days for Oxnard and Santa Maria shows rain and threats of rain forecasted.
Plenty of trucks, and rates are negotiable, although trucker balk at rates that are offered too low.

LETTUCE–market hanging tough. The fob has been hovering around $20, and looks to hang in most of this week. We reported several weeks ago that the lettuce market could be active the whole month of January, and it looks like it could go that way. However, warmer weather is coming in the desert ,and that should help bring on supplies. Still, most shippers say that they are 2-3 weeks AHEAD of harvesting schedule, so that may offset any additional supplies expected as the weather warms. Quality-wise, we are seeing more “puffy” heads, irregular head size,and lighter weights.

BROCCOLI–overall strong market. There ARE shippers that are flexing a bit with their prices, so we may see a pretty good range in prices this week on both bunch and crowns. This is an item you may want to shop around for the best deal. Quality is pretty good overall, with little discoloration.

CAULIFLOWER–we knew this was coming. The shippers pushed this market to the roof last week and now retails are set high, and there is very little business. The market has already dropped $3-5.00/box compared to last week at this time, and we are expecting more. It is important to buy light and not get caught with too much high priced product. We are also buying with market protection.

LEAF ITEMS–not much change. Still a wide range in price in red, green, and romaine. This is another one you might want to shop around.

CELERY–oh, to have a 1/2 acre of celery in your back yard. This market keeps hanging in tough at $23-25.00 FOB. But, now that the desert has kicked in, supplies should pick up and we could possibly see the market start to drift downward.

STRAWBERRIES–Florida has caught some cold weather, which is resulting in more action out West. Looking ahead the next 10 days, we see rain coming in to the berry country of Oxnard and Santa Maria. That is bound to create problems with supply shortages and quality. Stay tuned.

Active Markets, Slow Business

The cold weather in the desert growing areas have really put the clamps on growing and harvesting time. The past 2 weeks have been very cold at night and in the morning, allowing farm workers to only get 4-5 hours per day to harvest. Plus, the vegetables just won’t grow with this cold weather. As a result, markets continue to be active on just about all the major vegetable items. Lettuce broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and romaine are all pushed to the breaking point. And that is exactly what will happen as these prices continue. Retails will be changed and business will slow. The good news is that temperatures are slowly warming up.
Trucks  are still plentiful, but rates seem to have bottomed out for now. Fuel costs have bottomed out, as well, so this may be the “low” for trucks for this Winter.
Long range weather in the desert growing regions show gradual warming temperatures, plus not as cold at night. This is certainly good news, so the epidermal peel and other effects from freeze damage should be minimal.

LETTUCE–all the reports we are getting from the shippers is that they are WAY ahead of schedule with their fields. As a result of that, they expect LIGHT supplies of lettuce the entire month of January, and into early February. So, even though the lettuce market is high, we aren’t sure if prices will come down any time soon. Quality is okay for the most part, although expect to see epidermal peel and blister mostly on the outer wrapper leaves.

BROCCOLI–light supplies, especially on crowns. The market on bunch 14s, 18s, and crowns continue very active, but we could see easing by the end of this week. With retail prices set high, business should slow down and prices could come off.

CAULIFLOWER–VERY active market here. Light supplies and empty pipelines will keep this market strong. Still, we don’t encourage you to buy heavy. Once the market starts to come off, it won’t be 50 cents or a dollar at a time! You don’t want to be stuck with high priced cauliflower.

LEAF ITEMS–quite a wide range in prices on red, green, and romaine. In fact, there is as much as a $4-5.00 SPREAD depending upon the area and label on any one of these items. We are seeing epidermal peel and blister on the back sides of leaf, especially romaine. Fortunately, the freeze hasn’t gone too deep, so it is mostly on the outer leaves and the workers are doing a pretty good job of trimming the problem leaves off.

CELERY–prices keep going up. Shippers keep testing the waters every day to see when the buyers say “THA’TS ENOUGH!” There is quite a price spread between the larger size 24s and 30s, and the smaller size 36s. So, if you can switch sizes, and we recommend that if you can, that would give you more stalks/carton to sell. And, truthfully, when the markets get as strong as they are right now, there isn’t much of a difference between a 30 and 36 size. Shippers are also adding $1.50-2.00/box to transfer product from Oxnard to the desert areas to load with the mixers, so that makes thing even MORE expensive.

STRAWBERRIES–just when prices finally started to ease off in California and Mexico, cold, wet weather in Florida is looming. We’ll see how the next 2-3 days shake out, but demand is already picking up out West for our fruit. Quality ranges from excellent to outstanding. Hard, big, full color is what we are seeing.

Cold Desert

We are finally seeing the cold temperatures in the desert growing areas that we DREAD every year. Normally we see these temperatures in December, where we sweat out the entire month. As we get in to the middle to the end of January, those “treats” become less likely. But, this is early January, and there here. Cold temperatures today and for the next few days are forecasted and will cause problems. Already today, we are seeing lettuce ice until 11 am, which means the workers can’t even get in to the fields until then. That shortens the work day, growing time, and shortens the supplies. As a result, “false markets” are created. Shippers can ask for more money if they don’t have the supplies. And they are.
Long range weather shows after the next few cold days in the growing regions of Coachella Valley, Imperial Valley, and Yuma, there will be gradual warming, and no rain in sight.
Trucks more plentiful than the past 2 holiday weeks, and rates are drifting back down, after these past 2 weeks of run ups.

LETTUCE–short supplies caused by the cold spell in the desert. Shippers are pushing the markets upward because of this, and will continue to do so. We are watching the quality, because there will probably be some blister and epidermal peel mainly on the outside wrapper leaves. We don’t know how “deep” the effects will be.

BROCCOLI–cold temps slowing down the supply chain and pushing the markets, especially on crowns. We don’t anticipate the broccoli market going up too high, but up $2-4.00 over last week could happen. Cold weather causing some purple cast.

CAULIFLOWER–basically supplies have come to a standstill because of the cold weather. Demand isn’t necessarily active, but with little product available, the shippers don’t need good demand to push their prices.

LEAF ITEMS–again, cold weather slowing production and growth. Prices aren’t going crazy, like other items, but enough to get red and green leaf off the floor. Watch romaine. Cold weather can really effect things there. Romaine is VERY susceptible to blister and peel, and we are watching for that.

CELERY–shippers keep pushing the market, and buyers keep buying. It has got to stop sometime, but we have seen over the recent years the market getting to $30 fob, and staying there.

STRAWBERRIES–better supplies in Florida putting California to a more stable situation. Good quality out here. Hard, sweet fruit that will hold up.

ASPARAGUS–all the shippers are talking about better supplies LATE in the week. For now though, things are VERY tight due to the cold weather slowing growth and production to a crawl.