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Despite harvest delays, Walla Walla volume should be normal

Producers of Walla Walla sweet onions are expected to begin their harvest a week to 10 days behind typical timetables. Mike Locati, chairman of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee, said cold weather was the culprit.

“We had some issues in December [with the fall planted crop],” he told The Produce News. Transplants and direct-seeded onions are faring well, and Locati said temperatures were warming up in the Walla sdfaeMike LocatiWalla River Valley during April.

Walla Wallas are grown on 600 acres in the growing district. “Our volume should be normal,” he stated. Typically, 1,000 40-pound units are produced per acre. “I’m optimistic we’ll get close to that,” he added.

The harvest will ramp up toward the end of June and run through mid-August. “It’s a little early to tell about sizing,” he stated, but he expects adequate supplies of jumbos this season. “Maybe not as many colossal.”

Locati said growers are hoping for that perfect production trifecta in 2014: a good crop, good demand and “hopefully the pricing will be nice.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Cold delays Ohio vegetable plantings

Old Man Winter aged to be ancient this winter through much of North America. Ohio produce growers continued to feel the wrath going into mid-April.

On April 15, three large growers around Willard, OH, told very similar tales.

Ben Wiers, a family owner at Wiers Farm Inc., indicated, “We had three inches of snow last night. We have planted nothing. We need a few warm days to dry off the fields. It will be next week before the fields are ready to plant.”bell-peps-0073Bell peppers growing in an Ohio field. (Photo courtesy of Holthouse Farms)

Bruce Buurma, a family owner of Buurma Farms Inc., said, “Normally, the first planting would be in the ground.” Assuming the weather would become more typical, Buurma planned to soon start transplanting early vegetables from greenhouses into the ground.

Buurma and his neighbors expect a slight delay because of the late start. Buurma expects to be seven to 10 days later than normal.

On April 22 the 10-day forecast for Willard showed coming rain but no lows below freezing.

Wiers said if the weather and soil return to normal in the third week of April “we will only be a few days” off schedule.

Planting season for will be “a week or so late” but Wiers isn’t too concerned. “I look forward to the weather breaking but this is not a real bad situation. If this was two weeks from now, I’d be more worried.”

Kirk Holthouse, sales manager of Holthouse Farms of Ohio Inc., said, “We are like everyone else. We are looking at a later start.” Holthouse noted, “We are used to this” bad weather in April. Holthouse would plant its greenhouse transplants “when the ground is ready. We have got to get the ground temperatures up. If it’s warm in late April and May, we will make up ground quick” on the production schedule.

Buurma said one year April 1 planting was followed by a weather delay gap. The same crop was planted April 20. The second planting was ready for harvest before the first because the plants were so much stronger. Thus, “We’re not hitting any panic buttons yet.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Cool weather delays start of Texas deal, new Vidalia ship date could extend season

The Texas onion deal will be a little late out of the gate this season but growers will get some help extending that season with a new later start date for Vidalia onion growers.instead

A cold winter by Texas standards — averaging about 10 degrees cooler than normal — will mean the Texas deal will not begin until about mid-March after harvest a week earlier. Mexico has also been behind this season due to cooler temperatures.

In late 2010, Texas onion growers appeared to be sitting pretty. They were coming off a year where their crop fetched as much as $ 40 a box — roughly a dollar a pound. Consumer demand had grown steadily for several years. Any past problems were squarely in the rearview mirror.

Then, as almost always happens, a few growers decided if some was good, more was better. Overplanting was rampant, production boomed. The predictable result of too much product on the market was a drop in pricing. Two years of struggle followed.

In 2013, growers cut back acreage by 40 percent. Most managed to work out water rights in drought-plagued Texas. The result was a return to solid markets and solid profitability.

Texas growers learned from the struggles of 2011-12, put that knowledge into play in 2013 and will follow the same template for 2014.

They may actually get a boost from an unlikely (and in some cases unwilling) ally as well — Vidalia onion growers. Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black earlier this year established a prohibition against early shipping of Vidalia onions. Though there is a court challenge under way, as it stands now, no Vidalia onions can be packed or shipped prior to April 15. Some Georgia growers said they will not even begin that soon this year.

That means Texas will have a wider window of exclusivity for its homegrown product, as much as a six-week window.

“Over the years the Vidalia growers have chipped away at the Texas deal by packing earlier and earlier,” said Marvin Davis of Tex Mex Sales in Weslaco, TX. “They weren’t doing themselves any favors by putting early-season product on the market before it was ready, some of them anyway. If consumers don’t have a good experience early in the season, they’re not going to come back.”

A judge is expected to rule on a court challenge to the Georgia pack-and-ship date some time in March. If the date is upheld, Texas growers will reclaim part of their original exclusivity window. If not, they stand to benefit anyway as some Vidalia growers have said they will not ship earlier onions regardless of the outcome of the judicial proceedings.

Meanwhile, “Sweet onions coming out of Mexico this year have been outstanding and the Texas crop looks even better,” said Delbert Bland of Bland Farms LLC in Glennville, GA, which also has operations in Mexico and the Lone Star State. “With the new highway and bridge in Mexico, the Southwest is becoming more important in the onion deal every day.”

“It’s still early, but the crop looks really good,” added Tex Mex’s Mike Davis.

Lone Star State growers are looking at promising markets — in the low and mid-20s in late February and early March — and decreased production in Mexico this year after similar drops in 2013 bode well for Texas.

Some key growing areas also benefited from several significant rain events over the last few months that helped growers stave off ever-present worries about water supplies.

“Prices should be strong,” said Bret Erickson, president of the Texas International Produce Association. “We still need moisture. But quality looks to be excellent and we will have a good supply of sweet onions out of Texas.”

In 2013 “there was one week in there you could actually call winter and that was it, the first week of January,” said Don Ed Holmes of The Onion House in Weslaco. This year the cooler weather provided a reverse of 2013.

And while the crop is late, Holmes was quick to note that onions are dormant during much of the production cycle, getting most of their growth in the month before harvest, and thus virtually impervious to cooler weather.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Cool weather delays start of Texas deal, new Vidalia ship date could extend season

The Texas onion deal will be a little late out of the gate this season but growers will get some help extending that season with a new later start date for Vidalia onion growers.instead

A cold winter by Texas standards — averaging about 10 degrees cooler than normal — will mean the Texas deal will not begin until about mid-March after harvest a week earlier. Mexico has also been behind this season due to cooler temperatures.

In late 2010, Texas onion growers appeared to be sitting pretty. They were coming off a year where their crop fetched as much as $ 40 a box — roughly a dollar a pound. Consumer demand had grown steadily for several years. Any past problems were squarely in the rearview mirror.

Then, as almost always happens, a few growers decided if some was good, more was better. Overplanting was rampant, production boomed. The predictable result of too much product on the market was a drop in pricing. Two years of struggle followed.

In 2013, growers cut back acreage by 40 percent. Most managed to work out water rights in drought-plagued Texas. The result was a return to solid markets and solid profitability.

Texas growers learned from the struggles of 2011-12, put that knowledge into play in 2013 and will follow the same template for 2014.

They may actually get a boost from an unlikely (and in some cases unwilling) ally as well — Vidalia onion growers. Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black earlier this year established a prohibition against early shipping of Vidalia onions. Though there is a court challenge under way, as it stands now, no Vidalia onions can be packed or shipped prior to April 15. Some Georgia growers said they will not even begin that soon this year.

That means Texas will have a wider window of exclusivity for its homegrown product, as much as a six-week window.

“Over the years the Vidalia growers have chipped away at the Texas deal by packing earlier and earlier,” said Marvin Davis of Tex Mex Sales in Weslaco, TX. “They weren’t doing themselves any favors by putting early-season product on the market before it was ready, some of them anyway. If consumers don’t have a good experience early in the season, they’re not going to come back.”

A judge is expected to rule on a court challenge to the Georgia pack-and-ship date some time in March. If the date is upheld, Texas growers will reclaim part of their original exclusivity window. If not, they stand to benefit anyway as some Vidalia growers have said they will not ship earlier onions regardless of the outcome of the judicial proceedings.

Meanwhile, “Sweet onions coming out of Mexico this year have been outstanding and the Texas crop looks even better,” said Delbert Bland of Bland Farms LLC in Glennville, GA, which also has operations in Mexico and the Lone Star State. “With the new highway and bridge in Mexico, the Southwest is becoming more important in the onion deal every day.”

“It’s still early, but the crop looks really good,” added Tex Mex’s Mike Davis.

Lone Star State growers are looking at promising markets — in the low and mid-20s in late February and early March — and decreased production in Mexico this year after similar drops in 2013 bode well for Texas.

Some key growing areas also benefited from several significant rain events over the last few months that helped growers stave off ever-present worries about water supplies.

“Prices should be strong,” said Bret Erickson, president of the Texas International Produce Association. “We still need moisture. But quality looks to be excellent and we will have a good supply of sweet onions out of Texas.”

In 2013 “there was one week in there you could actually call winter and that was it, the first week of January,” said Don Ed Holmes of The Onion House in Weslaco. This year the cooler weather provided a reverse of 2013.

And while the crop is late, Holmes was quick to note that onions are dormant during much of the production cycle, getting most of their growth in the month before harvest, and thus virtually impervious to cooler weather.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Spain: Delays in orange harvest due to weather conditions

50% of the harvest completed
Spain: Delays in orange harvest due to weather conditions

The citrus harvest campaign in the area of Vega del Guadalquivir, Spain, is suffering some delays as a result of the weather. The president of Asaja, Ignacio Fernández de Mesa, explained that, “the rains are not causing damages, but are delaying the harvest. For now the presence of fungi has not been detected and the fruit is healthy.” He admitted that he is “not sure whether other plantations have been affected by the wind, but even if that was the case, they would be isolated cases.”

Fernández de Mesa showed his optimism after successfully completing the first harvest campaign. He stated that work is currently focused on the late varieties, of which 50% will be marketed for fresh consumption and the other 50% will go to the juice industry. “The first campaign finished with better prices than last year and now they should remain at acceptable levels after two disastrous years.”

Source: diariocordoba.com

Publication date: 2/17/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Delays in India creates opportunities for Pakistani onion exporters

Delays in India creates opportunities for Pakistani onion exporters

A prolonged monsoon season has caused problems for India’s onion growers. The complications have made for a delayed onion season in India, which could mean big opportunities for onion suppliers in Pakistan.


Aslam Pakhali, director of F.A. International

“We’ve had a healthy crop, both in terms of quality and quantity,” said Aslam Pakhali, director of F.A. International, an exporter of Pakistani onions. “Because of expanded growing areas and a favorable climate, we expect to ship about 15 percent more onions than we did last year.” F.A. International sources their onions from the Sindh province, which is one of the leading producers of onions in Pakistan. That, combined with easy access to the port city of Karachi, makes it easy for Pakhali to take advantage of the demand that’s sure to emerge in the wake of a delayed Indian season.

“Indian onions are usually available in October, but this year they will be available in December,” said Pakhali. “Because that crop will be delayed, we’ll have the market to ourselves for about 40 days.” From October 20 through the beginning of December, Pakhali estimates that Pakistani exporters could ship up to 80,000 tons of onions. F.A. International, which ships to Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the Middle East, will be able to take advantage of that open market, and Pakhali expects prices to remain strong on the back of robust demand.

“This is similar to what happened in 2010,” explained Pakhali. “There were onion shortages in India, so even with big quantities from Pakistan, prices didn’t go down because of the demand.”

For more information:
Aslam Pakhali
F.A. International
Tel: (+92-21) 32443200 or 32435289
Fax: (+92-21) 32439025
Email: [email protected]
www.fafruits.com
 

Publication date: 10/22/2013


FreshPlaza.com

US: H-2A delays threaten winter vegetable harvest

US: H-2A delays threaten winter vegetable harvest

America’s nearly $ 4 billion winter vegetable harvest is in jeopardy if the Obama administration doesn’t immediately speed up foreign guest worker visa applications that have been stalled during the government shutdown, the Western Growers Association warns.

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification at the U.S. Department of Labor has been closed since Oct. 1 and processing of H-2A guest worker applications was halted just when the growing season for winter vegetables was getting underway, the association said in a news release.

Federal workers who were furloughed under the partial government shutdown were to return to work Oct. 17.

It usually takes at least eight weeks to process H-2A applications and if workers are not in place by Nov. 18, consequences will be dire, said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers. “The H-2A program has never been efficient or responsive to needs of employers or workers even in the best of times,” Nassif said. “Inaction by Congress on immigration reform has forced farmers to turn to H-2A in desperation, but if these applications are not processed in an expedited manner, the Yuma and Imperial winter vegetable harvest, which relies on thousands of H-2A workers, will suffer and consumers will face a shortage of domestic fresh produce. Prices will surely rise as supplies diminish.”

Desert regions of Arizona and California produce 90 percent of the country’s vegetables in winter. Applications have not been processed for more than two weeks and a backlog has grown. Some 30 to 50 percent of agricultural workers in Yuma County, Ariz., and Imperial County, Calif., are H-2A guest workers during the winter, the association said.

Source: capitalpress.com

Publication date: 10/18/2013


FreshPlaza.com

Foster Farms Delays Update on Salmonella Outbreak

Foster Farms, the western U.S. chicken producer tied to an ongoing Salmonella outbreak in 20 states, canceled an online news conference scheduled to occur on Monday because the company had not finished collecting data it planned to discuss with media.

The conference was intended to update media on the company’s efforts to prevent more illnesses in excess of the 317 reported last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has recalled a number of previously furloughed epidemiology experts to help coordinate state officials who are tracking cases in the outbreak.

Three Foster Farms plants in central California have come under scrutiny after health investigators linked them to the outbreak in which 73 percent of illnesses have occurred in California.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it would not shut down those three plants, reporting satisfaction with food safety changes the company had made at its plants in Fresno and Livingston. The agency had earlier threatened to suspend operations if the company did not implement immediate corrective actions.

Despite canceling the news conference, the company did provide information on how it sanitizes its plants. The sanitation process occurs every day of the year, and plants cannot resume operations each day until USDA inspectors verify it’s been properly sanitized.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection service allows Salmonella on up to 7.5 percent of chickens slaughtered.  One Foster Farms plant involved with the outbreak was shown to have Salmonella on as much as 25 percent of its chicken meat.

At least 42 percent of victims in the latest Foster Farms outbreak have been hospitalized. Many of the strains of Salmonella Heidelberg involved in the outbreak have proven to be resistant to antibiotics, which may explain the relatively high rate of hospitalizations.

Food Safety News

Hurricane Manuel causes crop losses, planting delays in Culiacan, Mexico

After leaving a death toll of at least 197 on the central coast of western Mexico early the week of Sept. 15, Tropical Storm Manuel continued up the coast and reached hurricane strength before making landfall once more on the coast of Sinaloa, bringing extensive storm damage to growing areas around Culiacan, a major growing area for tomatoes, squash and many other produce commodities marketed in the United States during the late fall, winter and early spring seasons.

According to the Latin American Herald Tribune, more than 350,000 acres of crops were damaged by the storm, mostly due to heavy rains.

Sinaloa Gov. Mario Lopez Valdez estimated it would cost at least $ 93 million to rebuild areas hit by the storm, the Tribune stated.

As of Monday, Sept. 23, growers were still evaluating the extent of the damage to their fields, shade houses and greenhouses, a process that was expected to take at least another week.

Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer of Ciruli Bros. LLC in Nogales, AZ, said that the extent of the damage depends on where the farms are located, with rainfall amounts varying from around eight inches to 15 inches in various parts of Sinaloa.

Ciruli Bros. would soon be harvesting pre-Thanksgiving green beans and other products in the Los Mochis area of Sonora, the next state north.

“They received maybe two to three inches, not a heavy rain,” Ciruli said. “I think we are going to come out of that deal OK.”

But in the Culiacan Valley, “there are going to be some challenges,” he said. “There are going to be some setbacks, particularly with regard to the timing of when the crops come off.

Many winter crops had not yet been planted, he said. “Not everything was in the ground.”

But prior to the storm, “we were probably already running about 10 days behind schedule. Now, that is going to set us back a little bit longer,” he said, adding that planting will be delayed, and many damaged fields will need to be replanted.

That will make the transition from earlier growing areas into the Culiacan area challenging, he said. “It will make a difficult transition in the front part of November.”

On the positive side, the heavy rainfall helped fill reservoirs needed for irrigation that were very low prior to the storm.

Gonzalo Avila, vice president of Malena Produce Inc. in Nogales, AZ, posted a blog Sept. 20 on the company website, stating that “the recent storm and floods reported in Sinaloa and surrounding areas in Mexico have indeed been devastating to many. Thankfully, our growers and crews were spared much of the damage, mainly due to the fact that the majority of our crop has not yet been planted. Also, our shadehouses suffered only minimal damage to the outer covers but are structurally intact.”

While the “aggregate damage to the region’s production is yet to be determined,” Avila said in the post, he expects the company’s first shipments of the season to start by Oct. 1, as projected, “one of the earliest start dates reported for our winter vegetable season.”

Ted Kaplan, president of Professional Produce in Los Angeles, said Sept. 23, that Sinaloa is one of “my primary areas” for sourcing winter produce, and growers have told him that “they had more rain in one day than they can ever remember.” Some of the early production “was heavily affected,” and some of their plantings will be later than usual.

Chuck Thomas, president of Thomas Produce Sales Inc. in Nogales said Sept. 23 that some areas in Sinaloa appear to have crop losses of 20-30 percent. The coverings of some shade houses were torn by the high winds.

Some transplanted fields were lost to flooding, but will be replanted, Thomas said. He noted that growers generally hold in reserve enough seedlings to do extensive replanting just in case a situation such as the recent storm make it necessary.

The delays will probably mean that in some cases, crops that would have started in early September will not be ready until late September, he said. Squash, cucumbers and eggplant were among the crops most heavily affected.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Import-export shipping delays on agenda of upcoming WPPC

WPPC-logoWASHINGTON — All eyes may be on the Food & Drug Administration’s food-safety rules, but the United Fresh Produce Association is also keeping close tabs on problems that members may be experiencing in moving fresh produce through border crossings and ports, another food-safety topic on the agenda at this month’s Washington Public Policy Conference.

“One of the issues we hear the most is the [low] number of personnel who do the exams and inspections,” said Julie Manes, government relations director at United Fresh.

It comes down to resources and government cutbacks, she said, and the produce industry is going to “have to keep on top of this” to ensure agencies are staffed up to conduct the necessary exams, procedures and inspections.

During one of the business sessions at the Washington Public Policy Conference, to be held here Sept. 30-Oct. 2, United Fresh will discuss challenges for shippers and receivers in navigating border and port crossings to make sure highly perishable fresh foods are not compromised by delays.

Bruce McEvoy, global affairs director at Seald-Sweet LLC/UNIVEG Group, and Stuart Jablon, vice president of operations at Dole, plan to discuss the challenges and solutions at the Tuesday session.

Even changes designed to speed up processing at the port, though welcome, can create problems of their own for fresh produce companies.

Manes said she’s heard from members who complained about initial “glitches” with an U.S. Customs & Border Protection’s program that set up Centralized Examination Stations. CES are designed to speed up the examination process, reduce cargo delays and make the system more efficient.

In response, the trade association has had to contact CBP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to call attention to the problems. Manes credits the government agencies with listening to the fresh produce industry’s concerns.

Another CBP initiative that United Fresh is keeping tabs on is a pilot program, Enforcement Link to Mobile Operations, known as ELMO, in which personnel are equipped with mobile technology devices to more quickly relay information on shipments.

So far, the pilot has been successfully tested at a maritime cargo port for recording results of agriculture examination that take place outside the CES facilities, and CBP plans to expand the ELMO pilot to other ports of entry, CBP said.

United Fresh does more than talk to federal regulators about import-export issues.

“We make sure some folks on Capitol Hill are aware” of government procedures that may delay crossings, she said.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

CA: Wet weather delays Prince Edward Island potato planting

Although rain last month delayed planting of Prince Edward Island’s potato crop, growers are optimistic the season will get back on track by the time harvesting begins in September.

“We had a normal amount of rain in June, but it just occurred over a number of days,” said Greg Donald, general manager of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board. “We had a lot of wet days, so that and the cool weather delayed getting the crop in the ground.” He estimated that the weather delayed planting by up to two weeks, but he hopes that clearer skies will speed up the season so they’re on track by the time picking starts in September.

Normally, Prince Edward Island’s cool climate gives the potatoes grown there an advantage. But with fewer sunny days to contrast with the cool nights, planting was delayed. But now that the crop is planted and the weather has improved, the season’s timing has also improved.

“With good weather, we’ve caught up quite a bit,” said Donald. “We’re still about a week behind schedule, but we gained a lot of time that we had lost.” With the crop planted and beginning to blossom, it’s just a matter of waiting to see how development moves along.

“If we get bad weather, that could create challenges,” said Donald. “But, relatively speaking, so far, so good.”

FreshPlaza.com

99 Cents Only Delays Financial Filing

LOS ANGELES — 99 Cents Only Stores here said a series of accounting changes has resulted in a delay in filing its 10-K report for the fiscal year that ended March 30.

The company said it is “working diligently” to complete the financial statement and plans to file the data “as soon as practicable.” The filing was originally scheduled for June 28.


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Based on preliminary results, the company said sales for the fiscal year, calculated on a comparable 52-week basis, rose approximately 9% to $ 1.7 billion, while same-store sales were up approximately 4%. For the fourth quarter sales increased 9.7% to $ 435 million, calculated on a 13-week basis, while same-store sales rose 4%, benefiting by 50 basis points because the Easter season occurred twice during the fiscal year — with the holiday falling on April 8, 2012, and March 31, 2013 (the day after the fiscal year ended).

99 Cents Only also said it expects average annual sales per comparable store to be approximately $ 5.3 million, compared with $ 5.2 million in fiscal 2012, and annual sales per square foot to be $ 321, compared with $ 309 a year earlier.

Read more: 99 Cents Only Eyes 10% Growth

Explaining the delay in filing the 10-K, the company said it is in the process of upgrading its inventory accounting systems. After implementing the system during the second half of fiscal 2013 at 81 of its 316 stores, 99 Cents Only said it had identified potential overstatements in total inventory over the entire store base of up to $ 20 million. Accordingly, the company said it is reviewing the nature of this potential overstatement of its inventory balance and its effect on consolidated financial statements for current and prior periods.

The company also said that, during the fourth quarter, it changed the way it estimates its excess and obsolescence inventory, and that it is reviewing its inventory valuation related to purchase accounting in connection with its acquisition in 2012, and certain compensation expense accounting to determine whether any adjustments to prior periods may be necessary.

It scheduled a July 8 conference call with bondholders to discuss the matters.

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