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Freeze takes a bite out of cherry crop

The February freezes in California's San Joaquin Valley brought temps down to the 20s, and now they bring the estimate down for this season's crop of cherries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting the Central Valley crop will come in at 3.9 million compared to an original estimate of 9.5 million pounds -- about 40 percent of what was originally estimated. Harvest should begin in some areas as early as next week and more locations will come on board by the week of May 7. wear

Mexico and Florida are pumping out heavy volume of watermelons. Mexico shipped about 600 loads last week while Florida shipped 350 loads, and neither location has hit its peak. Weather in all growing regions of Florida and Mexico are experiencing perfect weather. In the Coachella Valley the watermelon harvest start date has been pushed up by a couple of weeks due to the extreme heat they have been experiencing. The last two weeks temps have been well above normal with 100-plus temps this week. Expect shipments out of Coachella starting next week and an increase as we go into May.

In Georgia, typical weather for this time of year continues. Highs are in the upper 70s to low 80s and minimums are in the low 50s. Sunday night, April 30 they will have an unusually cold night with temps down to the low 40s. Blueberries have finally started and production will increase as we head into May. USDA reported six loads of blueberries out of Georgia last week. Florida is currently the major player in blueberries with 44 loads shipped last week.

The northern Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California are finally finishing up their winter run of asparagus. Central Mexico is now starting to ship, along with areas out of the San Joaquin Valley, Peru and the Yakima Valley in Washington. The Yakima Valley has been experiencing above-average temps the last 10 days with highs in the mid-80s. The average high for this time of year is 65. These high temperatures will continue all of next week. Peru is experiencing average temps for this time of year with highs in the 70s and minimums in the mid-60s. Overall, not a lot of asparagus in the marketplace.

In what we call “Broken record weather” the exact same high and low temps are expected in Salinas, Watsonville and Santa Maria for the next 10 days: mid-60s for a high and minimums in the mid-40s, which is very typical for this time of year. Salinas is now the major player in all wet veg and lettuces. Close to 800 loads of lettuces came out of Salinas last week and over 130 loads of broccoli.

There are no major issues across Mexico. Sinaloa and Sonora are still shipping veg and tomatoes through Nogales. Weather is providing perfect growing conditions with highs in the low 90s and minimums in the mid-60s. Martinez de la Torre, Veracruz, has typical weather with highs in the low 90s and minimums in the low 70s. Rain is predicted for this weekend, with up to half an inch of total rainfall. The Bajio region looks good with normal temperatures. The only area with issues is the state of Puebla. They will experience possibilities of rain starting today and continuing daily through Saturday, May 5. Predicted rainfall is from 0.1 inches to 0.25 inches of rain every day. 

The Weathermelon app offers consolidated lists of global growing regions for each commodity; a 10-day detail forecast for each region; current radar maps (U.S. only); estimated harvest start/end dates for each commodity; monthly average high/low temps for each region; and custom daily alerts for temperature, precipitation and severe weather based on 10-day forecasts.

(David Robidoux is a co-founder Weathermelon)