Dairy: As the dairy industry continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and current market conditions, it’s become evident that stabilizing and increasing raw milk prices are necessary to maintain an adequate supply of raw milk in the southeast. Over the past several months, declines in the raw milk prices have been devastating to the local dairy farmers and we’ve also seen some of the larger farms go under as well. Industry experts believe the escalated prices will help stabilize supplies and reduce volatility for the farmers and processors. Expect these conditions to last through the summer.
Potatoes: Markets for russet potatoes are climbing across the board as we head into the tail end of the storage season. We’re currently seeing very heavy demand for smaller size potatoes used to cover consumer bags going to retail and the upcoming 4th of July holiday along with the USDA box program. Larger size potatoes are becoming scarce as we hit the tail end of the storage season and the remaining Idaho Burbank supply which exhibits a smaller size profile overall. Production schedules are scaling down to stretch the last of the storage crop adding to the decline in daily volume. Washington, Colorado, and Wisconsin are following suit with the increased demand. Quality will be normal for late season storage Burbanks with some lots showing shoulder bruise and air-checks. We expect a demand exceeds market for the month of July until new crop begins approximately mid-August. Prices will remain elevated.
Row Crops: After the initial COVID 19 shutdown, growers had to take a hard look at what they were going to invest in this next harvest cycle. With so many unknowns and no clear direction on demand forecasts, most shippers leaned on the side of caution and cut their plantings back by 15-25%. Those reductions in planting were executed back in late March and early April. Now (today), we are relying on those exact plantings to fill our demand. Unfortunately, those reduced acres were also impacted by unfavorable weather conditions through the months of April, May and June. The months of March and April brought on sporadic rain and cold fronts. Then May and June have had several heat waves pass through the Salinas Valley. This combination of weather does not promote healthy growth patterns for crops. Thus, yields are effected due to poor quality. Growers are reporting a loss of 25-35% in yield because of quality issues. When you combine the reduced plantings in conjunction with poor yields and labor shortages, you end up in the position we are currently in; very limited supplies, quality issues and high prices. Obviously, weather can have a big impact on availability. The assessments below are based on ideal growing conditions.
Romaine and Iceberg: These look to be the most impacted due to the reduced plantings, quality issues and harvest cycles. We expect a volatile market and very limited supplies for the next 4 weeks on Carton Romaine, Romaine Hearts and Iceberg Lettuce.
Green Leaf: We expect supplies to improve after the July 4th holiday.
Red Leaf and Butter: Will be extremely light next week. Like green leaf, we expect better supplies post July 4th.
Cauliflower: We can expect to see some challenges with supply for the next 2-3 weeks
Celery: Plantings reduced since CO-19. For the next 2-3 week expect celery supplies to tighten and higher prices.
Corn: Supplies are well short of demand; current crops experiencing less than ideal weather. Prices severely escalated.
Broccoli: Including Broccolini/Sweet Baby Broccoli supplies will start to improve over the next 2 weeks and we expect normal supplies by mid to late July.
Onion: Markets in both CA and NM are active due to holiday demand as well as the USDA box program. High heat into this weekend in the California Valley will also decrease yields with growers culling out quality issues. Expect to see increasing markets across the board through the balance of June and into early July.
Asparagus: This week is extremely limited. Central Mexico was hit with some rain; reducing yields. Washington crop has finished. Maryland, Canada wrapping up. Yields out of Kansas significantly lower due to warmer weather. Peru is battling labor issues due to social distancing. Local Salinas Valley Asparagus ends this week. Asparagus will be very tight through next week. There may be sizing substitutions.
East Coast – Lingering effects of last week’s tropical storm are showing up at harvest time.
Squash and Zucchini: Recent rains led to flooded fields with some crops being destroyed. Too much water causes a product that is in the field to mold and not reproduce. During this time of year, farmers are usually producing 4,000 – 6,000 bushels per day. As of yesterday some of the larger farmers were only producing a few hundred boxes. With low production numbers and marginal quality to choose from, farmers will plow under what is left. Prices on yellow squash and zucchini will be almost double their usual cost – this will last for at least 2-3 weeks until the northern growing regions of the Carolinas, New York, Michigan, Ohio have any type of volume to help ease supply shortages. We could also see a gap in availability.
Green Beans: Elevated bulk markets caused by a tough growing transition from GA into the Midwest. Rain in GA and delayed plantings in the Midwest (caused by a cold snap in early May) followed by rain will keep markets elevated for the next few weeks.