Produce Update: June 5 2015
Wow! It’s summertime coast to coast with heat warnings out for most of southern BC and balmy temperatures for most of Western Canada. New long range predictions from 6 government agencies in the US and Canada are calling for the hottest driest summer ever for all of the West Coast, from Baja to Alaska and east to the Rockies – a continuation of the record high temperatures and record low precipitation we’ve been in the throes of for over a year.
The impact on crops is tremendous. Hang onto your hats when you read this. We are, fingers-crossed, expecting BC Cherries to arrive on June 10th – that is 18 days earlier than ever before. And we’re hoping we avoid the tragic massive thunderstorms that ravaged the Okanagan and Similkameen over the past two summers in late June and July.
Apple supply is excellent although just as spendy as the last few summers. There is better supply this year so except prices to stabilize at present levels and the selection of sizes and varieties to be wider than last year. Our first container of Royal Gala from Fern Ridge has arrived – always stunning fruit we’ve bought direct from small producers in New Zealand. Avocado supply is strong although prices will continue to inch up with less and less supply every week, and government agencies not ready to certify new crop for several more weeks – the new crop fruit is large but doesn’t have the dry matter and oil content to meet export standards.
It’s definitely a great time to be in the fruit business, with a full selection of grapes, melons, stonefruit, mangos and tropicals – summer is the only time of the year with this great a selection. A few upcoming hazards – Costa Rica’s pineapple supply will be interrupted soon – 39 weeks of continuous rain have brought soil saturation and field flooding to a point where root rot is becoming an issue. A major hurricane is barreling down on Cabo San Lucas – and all the growing regions in southern Baja. Current expectations are the storm will weaken, but this will still be a strong system, and depending on the storm track could bring stormy weather through Sinaloa and Sonora and eventually to Texas, which doesn’t need any more rain!
Orange supply is steady and limes have dropped back to their normal levels but lemons are going to be an issue. We’re trying to maintain good supply on Fancy fruit, and keep our eye out for combo pack and choice grade to keep the prices real. Melons continue to be in a glut situation, and bin sales are awesome. Strawberries continue to fly in and out the door at lightning speed. We’re into Esteban Martinez Raspberries – these aren’t normal – these are heirloom dark red – and taste like raspberries you just picked in your backyard!
The list of local leafy greens continues to expand with most growers into full production of early crops already, and we aren’t too far away from good supply of local cole crops including kale and collards – what is listed on those is still slim pickings and we are backing up with Washington and California until we hit full stride.
Finally the broccoli market has crashed in California after a very, very long transition. Many growers have been besieged with far more issues this year – several weeks of foggy and humid weather created mold issues for organic producers which affect bok choy and spinach. Celery harvests have been weather delayed for a few weeks with not enough heat units to promote a lot of growth. Temperatures have improved drastically in 2 weeks but we still expect prices to stay high for a few more weeks. You will start to see some see-saw on cukes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, slicer and cherry tomatoes as Mexico winds down and California growers take over for the next couple of months – it’s too damn hot in Sonora this time of year to even bother – field workers have left to go back home to southern Mexico, water isn’t worth wasting when it’s 45C out and markets aren’t good.
Root supply is stable except for the short supply of parsnips, and who really cares about parsnips this time of year anyhow, am I right? We’re at the end of the storage yam season and new crop hasn’t begun, so expect to be squeezed on pricing on those for the next few weeks.