Transition Time

Except for the West Coast, business for Easter ’08 is done. Trucks are either at their destinations or on the way. As a result, business is starting to back off this week. In fact, many orders that were scheduled to load this week are being canceled or cut back, as buyers see that they have TOO much product on the way or in their warehouse. This is certainly typical going into just about any holiday week.
Next week, the week of 3/24, starts the Spring transition for 2008. Huron starts with head lettuce, romaine, mix leaf. Salinas starts with broccoli and cauliflower, as well as other specialty items. The desert areas will still be going, but as the temperatures heat up, things will come to a RAPID close. Of course, the markets have plenty to do with how long shippers will go. If prices are good, expect them to hang on for as long as they can. If markets are sloppy, they won’t hesitate to “pull the pin”
Long range weather shows Spring-like conditions in Salinas, Santa Maria, Oxnard, and Huron areas with cool, mild, dry days and cool nights. The desert shows temperatures pushing the 90’s during the day.
Trucks are SCREAMING about the high fuel costs, and pushing truck rates just about every day. Just to give you an idea, we are getting quotes that are equal to, or MORE than the end of May or first of June! We have NO idea what the Summer holds as far as rates are concerned.

LETTUCE–steady. The desert will be finishing up for the most part next week, while Huron is looking to start. We aren’t sure what the market will do. An overlap usually means it will remain steady to sluggish, while a “gap” could allow prices to be pushed upward. Quality is another issue. Hot temperatures in the desert hurt quality, while the first lettuce coming off Huron fields are usually nothing to write home about, either.

BROCCOLI–strong market. Supplies are a bit light and demand is good. Prices are higher than last week, but as Easter demand cools, we could see prices stall out.

CAULIFLOWER–shippers have been pushing prices up for the past 10 days and could be close to maxing it out. There will certainly be resistance at the retail end, which will slow demand.

LEAF ITEMS–no change here. The desert will continue to go for another 10 days or so, and Huron will get cranked up next week. We aren’t sure where the markets are headed, so we will say things will be “steady” going into next week.

CELERY–demand is backing off, after the Easter push. The desert will go another 2 weeks, then switch totally back to Oxnard for the Spring. We don’t see the celery market doing much for a while.

STRAWBERRIES–we got through the Easter week in fairly good shape. Our wish came true, in that Florida hung on long enough with acceptable quality to supply most of the East coast with their needs. That was certainly welcome in California! We see supplies really starting to pick up as we get closer to April.

ASPARAGUS–shippers are desperately trying to hang on to their prices after the Easter pull. But, demand is really falling off, with orders being cut back, or canceled. The expected hot temperatures in the desert will finish off the desert deal very quickly, then we will switch to the Spring deal in Stockton and Lodi.

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