MARKET REPORT – JULY 20TH 2016
One of the largest high pressure ridges meteorologists have ever seen – a huge dome extending from northern Mexico across the entire continental US and in a curve from Vancouver to Toronto north through the Prairies – is just arriving. Temperatures are forecast to hit record values or potentially exceed them across all areas of California, but the vast scale of this hot air will affect all growers in all growing areas and speed up growth on many crops while demanding a surge of irrigation water. Citrus growing areas in the desert and the southern Central valley between Fresno and Bakersfield are expected to range from 42 to 46C. There hasn’t been much conversation recently about the California drought because good spring rains raised all the reservoirs to at least 80% of capacity, but the Sierra Snowpack is lower than normal, and what none of these reports cover is the amount of recharge over the winter and spring to the huge aquifers that supply most of the irrigation water. Maybe the notice on the field portable in this picture that Brody took while on a farm tour last week in California says it all – nothing has changed, and if is not getting better.
Here’s your mid-week update: The first of the ‘real’ eating apples will arrive later in the week – Sunrise and Earligold are always the first two off the block – and there should be a reasonable supply of the early dessert apples for another 10 days.
Bananas – we should be back on track with Fair Trade fruit by Thursday, with a delayed container just arriving.
Blueberries – well the last few days haven’t been a good one for growers – severe thunderstorm warnings that spread across the Fraser Valley didn’t produce much rain over-all, but there was some good downpours through the weekend and overnight last night. Blues are at their production peak, and temperatures have been in the high 20’s since Friday, but the combination of some rain and very high humidity has every grower scrambling to get the current puffy water-logged fruit off that is going to go to the freezer – a higher priority than harvesting for fresh. With the price for frozen at or higher than fresh we don’t blame them, but we don’t expect to see promotable volumes again later in the week at the earliest.
Grapefruit / Oranges – this category will be an interesting market through this high heat – some varieties just don’t do well with very warm nights – expect to see some sharp increases on many citrus listings with weather and high demand coinciding.
Plums – this great category is widening further. Expect at least two new varietal listings to jump onto the list every week. We’re early on some varieties this year but the season shouldn’t be compressed. Plums ripen off the tree – in fact they are a better product when picked quite young and if growers are on the ball and pick at the right time there are 3-4 weeks of potential storage life as they convert sugar on their own, and that fact allows the market to stay pretty well settled over 2 months with no urgency.
Strawberries – weather has finally been on-side for a few weeks after a very tough spring for California growers with high humidity, frequent rain and a few heat spells. Strawberries do best when grown in areas that have daily highs in the 16 – 22C range, and cool nights. The impending hot spell won’t have much impact in Watsonville or Salinas because they are so close to the ocean, and that ocean is cold! The climate in those areas is similar to San Francisco, especially along the coast. As some bright person once said, ‘the coldest winter I ever spent was the summer I spent in San Francisco.’ Often attributed to Mark Twain, Samuel Clemens or Oscar Wilde, (take your pick,) no one actually knows who first quipped that line.