Produce Update-May 22 2015
Here’s your Friday update: Blazing heat for this time of year continues to hasten all crops across BC and Washington. Weird weather patterns have brought record-breaking temperatures to all BC growing areas, with highs up to 10C above average. Many growers are moving up their projected start dates, and the most major ones are Washington cherries (2 weeks ahead), BC Cherries (10 days ahead) and BC Blueberries (2-3 weeks ahead – potentially mid-June). This of course means those seasons will end sooner than normal. The hot weather and lack of rain have moved parts of BC, especially the North Okanagan, into drought category, which is not helping a very early and active fire season. California has now moved to 94% severe drought and 45% exceptional drought. A year ago today, only 27% was in exceptional drought. We aren’t seeing anything drastic happen yet to the flow of produce north, and we don’t really rely on California much during the hot summer months except for citrus, grapes, yams and a few others – none of which are high irrigation hogs. The biggest impacts are on the almond crop, where it takes a gallon of water to produce one almond. As this crisis worsens smarter minds might prevail and limit the trillions of gallons of precious water that are destroyed annually by the growing natural gas fracking industry in California. One of the byproducts of the drought is the devastating growing unemployment for field workers who live at a subsistence levels in California and often don’t have a social safety net.
We continue to have strong supply of apples, with Washington still in reasonable supply on many varieties. They are packing their last Gala’s this week, just as we transition to our first container of NZ Gala from Fern Ridge in 10 days. We have finally got confirmation of good supply of FT Avocados through the balance of this crop year with the addition of growers into the Pragor Coop from valleys not hit by the March hailstorms. The new avocado crop, which usually starts harvest in mid to late August has sized up 6 weeks earlier than average because of a copious amount of rainfall during what is normally dry season. New crop won’t start harvesting until the dry matter / oil content hits permissible levels, but the fruit still on the trees we will have for the next 8 weeks is a little darker skinned, rich and oily – quite fabulous we think. Lemon pricing continues to climb with lower production and smaller sizing. Growers are asking us to take smaller fruit as well as more choice grade. Melons continue to be abundant as California’s desert crop takes off – with high temperatures heading to 40C over the next few days in the Imperial Valley, the glut should speed up. California stone fruit season is ramping up quickly with cherries on the horizon. We had expected to start loading today but the grower pulled the plug with too much fruit splitting while cooling. Pears continue to be a strong category and we have a great selection for this time of year – try some of the fancy specialty heirlooms – they are quite awesome!
After waiting for 3 weeks for reasonable strawberry supply, seasonal growing temperatures have now hit Watsonville (22C) and all that fruit on the vines just waiting for a few more heat units is coming on quickly. With the Memorial Day push behind the market now, there will be a plethora of fruit. Esteban is asking us to push fruit hard and we have an impressive volume booked. Take advantage – this fruit is awesome. Ask about volume pricing above and beyond this week’s special price!
It’s also an interesting time to watch your retails. With “local” popping up in markets all down the coast, across the SE states, and early crops starting in the interior of BC and even in Alberta, in combination of continuing shortages of greens out of California which are still recovering from weeks of cool weather, this will create some topsy-turvy markets – just a heads up. And speaking of local (and regional) you will find a surprising amount of listings for BC product – there isn’t an enormous amount of volume behind those listings, but it’s still pretty awesome! Fabulous deal from the best spinach grower we’ve ever seen – Ralph’s Greenhouse – nothing compares!