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Fresh from the Field

This week’s fresh update

September 22, 2020 | Volume 7, Issue 37

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Conventional Vegetables

Production out of both Mexico and Peru have picked up over the last several weeks. The general market has seen pricing decline and asparagus has again become a highly promotable retail item. Over the next several weeks, we will continue to see good import volume from both growing regions. Quality has also been solid and is expected to be solid through November.
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No major change in terms of pepper and availability. Demand exceeds supply, and the cool weather will continue to keep volume down. Canada had freezing temperatures over the weekend and most likely will be done for the season. The goal is for Michigan to continue to harvest until week 41. Georgia will start their harvest by week 42. We still recommend staying away from any promotions until we see consistent production from Georgia.
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Markets remain extremely tight and demand greatly exceeds supply. West Coast product is under disease pressure following temperature swings and excessive rain. Mexican product will still show signs of hollow stem with limited product crossing into mid-October.
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Still good availability out of the Midwest and will go through mid- to late-October, with the Southeast and Texas crops coming on early November.
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Salinas, Santa Maria, and Oxnard, California, are the primary shipping locations for celery off of the West Coast. Mexican celery is also available out of Texas. There are good supplies this week with good demand. Markets are expected to strengthen this week as the Thanksgiving pull starts. California celery quality is good, with good, green color. Most shippers are peaking on 30s and 36s. Please contact your sales representative with any questions.
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Demand continues to exceed supply, even though North Carolina and Georgia are starting to harvest on a weekly basis. Cool weather will eventually have an effect on yields. We still advise on staying away from any promotions. Nogales will start to see some crossing of cucumbers by week 42.
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Our farm in Georgia received approximately 3.5 inches of rain from Hurricane Sally last week. There was no real significant damage to the fields. Weather continues to be overcast and cloudy. We have started collard, mustard, and turnip. Kale will continue out of the Midwest until 9/27, then fully transition to Georgia. We have ample supply of collard, mustard, and turnip; please reach out to us for bunch pricing.
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Reduced yields are the main concern among growers of leafy greens due to a combination of factors. Damage from the last heat wave is one factor, but the one that continues to cause damage after the heat is Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV). INSV is a plant pathogen virus believed to be spread by the common insect, thrips. This virus is severely affecting iceberg and romaine yields. Quality reports are showing some fringe and occasional internal burn as well as spotting from INSV. The weather forecast calls for warmer temperatures through the remainder of the week. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh representative for current availability and updates.
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The market is currently stable with higher demand on bigger carton sizes 40s and 60s. New-crop quality is excellent on yellow and russets; red potato quality will be fair for the next three weeks. The crop is mainly coming out of Idaho/Colorado and now is the time to start working on promotions for the fall.
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Cooler temperatures across all regions will continue to keep volume down on both colors. Michigan is done for the season, while the Carolinas and Georgia try to keep up with demand. Weather permitting, Georgia should bounce back by the end of the week. High winds from Hurricane Sally will create some scarring and scuffing. Squash will remain active. We are starting to see small crossings of squash via Nogales. Nogales volume is two weeks away.
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Local northern deals are finishing up for the season. There is very little corn available. Georgia will start back up in about 2-3 weeks.
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Conventional Fruits

The new crop out of Washington State is now in full swing. As the growers get deeper into the orchards with more varieties, they are starting to see some trends and some concerns. The crop is picking out shorter than anticipated with more loss than expected. Part of the crop shortage is due to some of the varieties not sizing up as expected. They feel this is being caused by the smoke and fires that have plagued the region for several weeks now as well as the extreme heat that they had over the summer and fall. Expect this crop to be smaller than last year and as a result the prices will be higher across many of the varieties. We are now harvesting new-crop Galas, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Ginger Golds, Fuji, Kanzi, and Granny Smiths. Although the crop is picking out shorter than anticipated, we will still have plenty of fruit to sell and promote.
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There are light supplies on smaller sizes now that the Flora Loca crop has sized up. 70s and 84s have been very limited, while 60s and larger have been in good supply. The Aventajada crop is expected to begin in a couple weeks with more availability on smaller sizes. Quality has been favorable but is soon expected to start showing signs of external blemishes seen each fall due to the impact of the rainy season in Mexico.
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Blueberries
Weeks 39 through 51 are the majority of the import Argentine and Peruvian season with peak volumes late October through November; good quality and availability will start ramping. Mexico is a bit delayed but will start ramping up over the next few weeks; expect good volume and supplies starting in late October.
Blackberries
Mexican imports have started and Oregon is still going. Expect Mexico to ramp up heading into late fall, with a steady increase now until then (late October). Santa Maria fall crop started in a small way as well.
Raspberries
Production falling as we come to the end of the late summer season in Mexico with new crop starting in October. Expect production/availability to be light for the upcoming 3 weeks.
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Mendota, Patterson, and Sacramento on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in California are the primary shipping locations. Some growers in the desert region will scratch a few next weekend but are still a couple weeks away from volume. Westside fruit is very tight and is expected to stay that way for the remainder of the Central California season. Fruit on the Westside continues to have good sugar but we are seeing some green cast to the fruit as the days get shorter and weather gets cooler. Peak sizing is 9/jumbo 9 count, followed by 12 count with very few 15 count.
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Oranges
California Valencias still have very strong demand, especially on small sizes. 113s/138s are very difficult to come across and will be for rest of season. Chilean navels are also tight and will be for the rest of the season. Demand in Chile has been so strong this year that they have cut a lot of shipments to the U.S. This has kept supply short all season. Quality on Valencias is starting to get rough being late in the season and due to all the heat in California. Prices remain high as demand has been strong all season.
Lemons
Lemon supply far exceeds demand on California, Mexico, and Chilean lemons. With restaurants still coming back slowly, we have seen a dramatic drop in food service business. Demand is mainly towards large-sized lemons. Quality has been strong on lemons with very little issues this season. There are deals on choice and mid- to small-sized fruit.
Grapefruit
California is just about done with grapefruit, finishing about 6 weeks earlier than planned due to high demand. Texas will not start until the 2nd week in October which means there will be a gap in the season this year.
Mandarins
There are strong supplies of import mandarins at this time on both Chilean and Peruvian mandarins. Quality has been great all season long. We have seen prices drop over the past few weeks.
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Both market pricing and grape inventories remain steady into late September, with nearly all growers pushing to move heavy volume over the next 4-6 weeks. Industry-wide, the consensus is still that market pricing will slowly climb (particularly on green seedless varieties) into October, as the estimated total grape crop out of California continues to shrink due to high heat and lower than anticipated yields. Variety-wise, a wide range of red seedless grapes (Scarlet Royal/Krissy/Magenta/Timco) continue to be packed, along with a multitude of green seedless (Ivory/Stella Bella/Pristine) varieties. A handful of Summer Royals still remain for black seedless grapes, with most growers waiting for color to begin harvest on their Autumn Royals. Red globes also are now readily available across a handful of growers. Multiple specialty varieties such as Candy Snap/Candy Heart/Gum Drop (red seedless) and Sweet Globe/Timpson (green seedless) are still available in smaller quantities and at a slightly premium price. Overall, the California grape crop season is now in peak season, with promotable volume available at least through the month of October.
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Mendota, Patterson, and Sacramento are the current shipping locations. Supplies are tight and should continue to be tight for the rest of the season in Central California. Sugar is still good and we are seeing some light staining with some shippers. Peak sizing continues to be 5/6 count followed by jumbo 5 and 8 count.
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Small limes are very promotable. Quality is good on small sizes and should remain with good availability through October. Blanching will be visible, affecting color a little, but juice content should be good.
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We are now done with the Mexican Mango season for 2020 and have transitioned to Brazilian Tommy’s out of Eastern Pro Pak, New Jersey. Recent hurricanes and storms have caused disturbances on the water which have delayed several vessels. We are monitoring quality and repacking anything prior to shipping. Peak sizing this season has been on the larger side, like 7/8/9s with few 10s and 12s. We expect a size shift toward the end of the Brazilian season. Please reach out to us for availability on Brazilian mangos.
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Not much change from last week. Rain continues in the growing region of Tecoman, Colima. Strong winds and rain have kept it challenging to get into the fields and harvest. This has caused limited supply week over week. We have seen some heavier speckling on Imperial papaya due to the heat and humidity but does not affect the internal quality of the fruit. Peak sizes remain on large fruit like 7/8s, with few 9s and 12s. We will continue to monitor the weather and communicate any changes. Market has strengthened.
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New-crop Bartlett, Anjou, Bosc, Red pears, Comice, and Seckel are now available out of Oregon and Washington. The prices are on the higher side as we get started, but will start to drift down as more growers join the party. The crop is looking good and will be similar to slightly down from last year; we will have a better handle on the crop size in several weeks after more pears are harvested. There are also still good pears available out of California with supplies of Bartletts, Red pears and Bosc available for another week or two.
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Pineapple

Pineapple (Offshore)
Gustavo.Lora@robinsonfresh.com
Typical rainy season conditions will be present over the growing regions all through the week. Stormy weather is expected in the Pacific regions and Central Valley, with heavy rainfall also expected for the Caribbean and the Northern regions. Growers are reporting stable fruit condition but still with some water spotting on larger calibers. Yields have dropped slightly with large-count fruit becoming less available. USDA crossing report is showing a significant drop on inbound volume from Costa Rica for week 37 at 320 containers for the entire continental USA. USDA reporting demand as light and a lower market on 5s-7s with 8s as stable. Demand for pines is light with plenty of availability at all shipping points. Good offers on all counts with smaller fruit more readily available. Growers are reporting tighter supply at the farm level this week and expecting less fruit all through weeks 38-39. Mexican inventories are growing at both Gulf and West Coast locations with some lower pricing coming on large fruit. Hurricane Sally has disrupted operations in Gulfport, affecting some arriving vessels which will delay this incoming fruit.

Pineapple (Mexican)
Jiovani.Guevara@robinsonfresh.com
Veracruz, Tabasco, and Colima are the main pineapple growing regions in Mexico. Most of the fruit crosses and ships from border points of entry in Texas and Arizona. Supplies from Mexico are increasing and demand remains stable. Robinson Fresh growers continue to ship good volumes with good overall quality (+13% brix). Crown length is improving and becoming less of an issue. Market conditions are reported as steady and demand for Mexican pineapples as moderate, with good inventories of all sizes in the marketplace. Please contact your sales representative with any questions.
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Strawberries are very limited, especially on organics. Many shippers are sold out or oversold for the week. Santa Maria, California, is forecast for mostly sunny skies with highs in the 70s, increasing to the 80s on Sunday, and lows in the 50s. Salinas/Watsonville, California, is forecast for mostly sunny skies with highs in the 70s, increasing to the 80s for the weekend, and lows in the 50s. Santa Maria, California, fruit has occasional bruising, white shoulders ,soft shoulders, heat damage, decay and pin rot, misshapen, scarring caused from wind, seedy tips, and catface. Average counts are 22 to 24, occasionally higher and lower.
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Supplies are good this week on seedless but still tight on minis. Indiana and Delaware are winding down with light volume this week and heavier to 60 count. We will have supplies in North Carolina for another week. Out West, we have supplies out of Woodland, California, and Wapato, Washington, for a couple more weeks. We are seeing more 60 count out West also. Texas has good supplies and Mexico has fruit in Edinburg, Texas.
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Organic Fruits & Vegetables

New-crop organic apples are now in full swing with harvesting of organic Galas, Granny, Fuji, and Honeycrisp. The organic crop will be up this year in total cases; but, now that the growers are getting into the orchards and seeing more varieties, they are reporting that the crop will not be up as much as anticipated. Also, the demand so far is above normal and this is creating a lot of demand for the fruit in the early part of the season. Expect there to be plenty of fruit but expect the prices to be higher than last year due to strong demand.
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Organic Dry Vegetables

Paul.Cordero@robinsonfresh.com

With the 2020 fall season starting this week, it’s all about organic hard shell squashes and pumpkins of which there should be no shortage; please promote! Organic hot-house colored bell peppers and Euro cucumbers are still crossing in Nogales from Mexico and delivering in from Canadian growers. Organic dry veg supply will be somewhat limited in these locations but there may be ad lid promotional opportunities out 2-4 weeks. Nogales is starting to see more organic soft squashes and field-grown cucumbers cross from Mexico as their conventional season starts. Expect organic dry veg supplies to be limited to pallet quantities daily. Conventional soft squash will be tight over the next few weeks as California and eastern growers transition to new regions. Demand for organic soft squash is anticipated to increase due to selling as conventional. Expect organic local deals in the Midwest and Northeast United States to start winding down over the next 2-4 weeks on organic peppers, cucumbers, soft squash, and green beans, as growers transition to Florida for the winter crop.
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Organic minis have wound down in California. Supplies are very light. We are seeing the end of production this week. Our MelonUp!® production in Huron, California, is done for the season. Supplies in California will remain limited through the next few weeks.
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We have our organic red onions going strong in Hollister, California. We are peaking on 40-pound jumbos but we do have 40-pound mediums and 16/3-pound bags. Quality and sizing have been very good. The market remains steady as does the supply. Yellow onions have been on the tight side as the yellow supply has been having a slow start. Over the next couple of weeks, supply will increase and we should see a little dip in the market on them. We have started our beautiful organic shallots in Hollister, California, and supply is going to be good over the next several months. We are packing them in 20-pound boxes, 4/5-pound bags or 20/1-pound bags.
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New-crop organic Bartlett pears are now being harvested in large numbers in Washington and Oregon. Crop reports are projecting an increase of over 10% this year versus last year. Pricing has started on the higher side but should drop a little in a couple of weeks. This week, we are expecting growers to start picking some new-crop organic Bosc and organic Anjou as well.
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Supply on organic potatoes is still going strong out of Washington and Oregon. Quality has been good with just a little skinning happening on the potatoes. Wisconsin has started up as well and we should see that supply get stronger over the next few weeks. Our potato program out of Colorado is still 3 or 4 weeks away. Our plan would be to start shipping russets, reds, and yellows the week of October 14th. Field reports are good and we are just waiting for a little more size before harvesting.
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We have started up our last variety of squash now so we have Butternut, Spaghetti, Acorn, Delicata, and Kabocha available. Our supply on the Delicata and Kabocha is limited as it is in other locations and the markets remain strong on them. We do have very good supply of Butternut and Spaghetti and that market has come down some over the last couple of weeks.
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Organic Sweet Potatoes

Chris.Lemmon@robinsonfresh.com

New-crop sweet potatoes are going strong now out of Livingston, California. Quality has been good and should continue to get better as the potatoes cure more. The varieties we have available are Beauregards, Reds, Sweets, Japanese, and Purples. Sizing in the beginning has been on the smaller size with not a lot of jumbos available yet. That will change over the next month as they harvest more mature crops.
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Transportation

U.S. TEMPERATURE CONTROL TRUCKLOAD
• Midwest (Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana) states are markedly tight for short lead time supply. We are finding that 2-3 days of lead can improve access to capacity and minimize cost exposure.
– Main reason for tightness in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions is the approaching fall harvest and heavy protein season.
• California to Arizona is proving to the most challenging, with trucks requiring lengthy repositioning efforts and costs to offset as there is a material imbalance of freight flows in this corridor.
• Loads into Southern California, Southern Texas, or the Midwest are attractive lanes with available capacity.

Michael.Moyski@chrobinson.com
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Fresh from the kitchen

ASPARAGUS WITH MUSHROOMS

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces Green Giant™ Fresh asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Green Giant™ Fresh Mini Sweet Peppers
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup Green Giant™ Fresh Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • 2 springs thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chives, chopped

Preparation

  1. Heat up to 3 cups water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt.  Meanwhile, trim the ends of the asparagus about 1″ from the bottom.
  2. When the water comes to a boil, drop the asparagus and turn off the heat; let asparagus blanch for about 1 minute.
  3. Strain and cool asparagus under cold running water and place on paper towels to dry.
  4. Wash the peppers, core out the seeds and chop into fine cubes.  Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Heat pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  When hot, add mushrooms, black pepper and thyme.  Stir-fry about 3 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Reduce heat and add salt to taste.
  6. Arrange asparagus as base, add mushrooms and top off with mixed peppers and chopped chives.

… More at Asparagus with Mushrooms

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