Salinas Valley Romaine shippers are seeing surprisingly good demand from midwestern and eastern destinations, which normally rely on regional growing deals this time of the year. Lettuce shippers say demand is firm and steady. West Side melon shippers are seeing steady demand and slightly lighter supplies. California and New Mexico yellow onion shippers are experiencing steady and brisk demand, while red onion shippers were seeing strong demand and limited supplies.
Daytime temperatures in Salinas, CA, were expected to range in the upper 60s to low 70s through Aug. 14 with overnight lows in the mid-50s. South Salinas Valley daytime highs were expected to range in the mid- to upper 80s. Patchy morning and evening fog was expected to return Aug. 11-14.
The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning Aug. 10-12 for the Central Valley, with daytime highs expected between 106 and 112. Daytime highs were expected to retreat into the low 100s beginning Aug. 13.
ROMAINE/GREEN LEAF LETTUCE
California’s Central Coast shippers purposely reduce their leaf acreage during the summer because of competition from melons, grapes and stone fruit. Similarly, Canada and several U.S. regions offer home-grown leaf supplies from June into September.
The regional leaf deals in the Midwest and East Coast have been hit with the hottest July since the dust bowl era. The regional leaf crops continue to suffer heat stress and most likely will conclude their seasons far ahead of schedule.
West Coast leaf shippers are already seeing an increase in business from parts of the country, which normally rely on regional growing areas into September. Shippers sense that it is just a matter of time before an overwhelming surge in demand strikes the Salinas Valley and Santa Maria. Near-term leaf prices have the potential to soar in the coming few weeks and continue into the early autumn.
California shippers say that things are status quo heading into the week of Aug. 13. The Michigan celery deal has partially recovered from the recent heat stress and is currently a reasonable source for midwestern and eastern destinations.
West Coast growers purposely reduce their summer acreage so they don’t have to compete with the regional deals. California shippers simply don’t have the availability of product to cover an unexpected surge in demand. West Coast shippers sense Michigan will finish its celery season several weeks early and swing unexpected demand to the West Coast beginning mid- to late August.
For now the celery is firm and steady, but has the potential to turn into a strong seller’s market with little advance notice.
The California celery market remains split based on loading districts. Truck rates are expensive, so Santa Maria shippers must be creative to lure orders and trucks away from the Salinas Valley.
The hottest July since the dust bowl era in the midwestern and eastern United States has primarily affected the leaf lettuce and celery markets. Iceberg lettuce growers and shippers have indirectly benefited from the strong leaf market through much of July. This secondary demand has helped support and maintain positive returns to Central Coast farming operations.
Central Coast lettuce growers purposefully reduce their lettuce acreage during the height of the summer season when West Coast melons, grapes and soft fruit are plentiful. Shippers simply don’t have extra product to cover an expected surge in demand. The near-term leaf and celery markets are expected to surge and the Iceberg market will ride their coattails.
For now the near-term Iceberg market will hold firm and steady, but it has the potential to turn into a strong seller’s market with little advance notice.
Watsonville and Salinas Valley shippers said that this year’s production peak surprisingly extended into the latter portion of July. On the flip side, the expected decline in early August is beginning at an accelerated pace. Supplies will continue to decline into early September, at which point production will be 50 percent of the July peak.
Not all fruit is equal, and therefore buyers must choose carefully. There is a wide range in price based on labels and whether the fruit loads in Salinas or Santa Maria. Truck rates are very expensive, so Santa Maria shippers must be creative to lure orders and trucks away from the Salinas Valley.
Shippers said that berry counts have increased. Despite the smaller fruit size, the strawberry plants continue to produce full-flavored fruit with ample shelf life upon arrival. Shippers with the top-tier labels have pushed the market noticeably higher since late July and expect additional price increases through August.
West Coast broccoli supplies rise and fall during the summer season based on the fluctuations in temperature. The ebb and flow of production rolls along like a roller coaster, which in turn affects the market.
Supplies have been abundant since late July and the market has been very reasonable. The near-term forecast of warm temperatures along California’s Central Coast will ensure good availability into the week of Aug. 13 and likely beyond. Overall quality is good and all packs, including Asian-cut crowns, are plentiful.
The California broccoli market remains split based on loading districts. Truck rates are expensive so Santa Maria shippers must be creative to lure orders and trucks away from the Salinas Valley.
The dynamics of the California melon market are shifting. Yields and acreage under production in Mendota and Firebaugh are both settling lower. Daytime high temperatures will range from 106 to 112 Aug. 9-11 in the Central Valley. The heat is welcomed as long as temperatures don’t reach 110 degrees three or more consecutive days.
Melons mature faster than they can grow when the temperatures climb to 106-112 degrees. Conversely, mild temperatures reduce the rate of maturity and allow the melons to gain size. Therefore, the current hot spell will produce medium and smaller sizes.
Melon quality remains excellent with good color, netting and sugar levels. Today’s cantaloupe market has the potential to increase because yields are easing, acreage under production is dropping and regional growing areas in the Midwest will likely finish their seasons ahead of schedule in mid- to late August.
The Valencia size profile is unusually large for early August and will continue to gain size through the summer season. Supplies of 113s and 138s will tighten further into the autumn and prices will steadily rise until new-crop Navels offer market relief in late October.
Foodservice buyers should plan early and stay ahead of inventories. Receivers able and willing to switch to 88s will find savings and uninterrupted supplies.
Near-term temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley were expected to approach 110 degrees. Such high temperatures cause chlorophyll to back-flush in into the Valencias and create a green cast on the outer skin. This is cosmetic only and does not affect the eating quality in any way. The current harvest offers excellent quality with high sugars.
California’s Central Valley harvest is complete and Oxnard growers have harvested at least 85 percent of their crop. California lemon quality is excellent, and a full array of sizes in both grades is available. Seasonal lemon sales are steady and brisk. The vast majority of California’s lemon supplies are in Oxnard.
Production in New Mexico has lost traction and shippers foresee an early conclusion to the season in mid-August. California shippers have their own production issues including immaturity, below-average yields and production gaps. The net result is a fairly strong supply-driven market, which will continue until the Northwest offers good volume later in August.
Yellow onion supplies are intermittent in New Mexico and California while red onion production is far below normal. Red supplies are so short that California and New Mexico shippers are buying Washington state onions to supplement their needs. Buyers should anticipate rising red prices.
The Washington state transplant yellow crop offers thin supplies and sizes lean toward mediums. Washington shippers will offer increasing supplies the week of Aug. 20 when direct-seed varieties begin. One saving grace is new-crop Colorado onions from the Greeley area, where jumbo yellows are large and are 90 percent over 3.5 inches in diameter. Greeley jumbos will fall to 70 percent by Aug. 13.
California’s Central Valley is bracing for near-record heat. Daytime highs in Huron were expected to range between 106-112 degrees Aug. 10-12. This heat is both good and bad news. Such high temperatures may result in sun scald but will enhance maturity, which shippers have battled over the past few weeks.
The yellow onion market has topped and will hold fairly steady through the week of Aug. 13. Yellow onion market relief will arrive the weeks of Aug. 20 and Aug. 27 when direct-seed production from the Northwest increases. Red onion supplies will remain tight and buyers are encouraged to stay ahead of inventories.