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Potato movement good, but transportation a concern for Red River Valley shippers

Ted Kreis, marketing director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, said “movement is going well.” USDA figures show “for the week ending Dec. 6 that 124,000 hundredweight of Red River Valley potatoes had been shipped. “This is up 18 percent this year over the previous year. And it’s more than 2012 and 2011 too,” Kreis added.

For 2014 as a whole volume is up despite the fact that the crop started two weeks later than in 2013. “We’ve made up the difference in the late start,” he said.2008-9-8-1620-red-harvest-conveyorDespite a later start than 2013, volume is up for Red River Valley potatoes.

The Red River Valley produced somewhat fewer yellow potatoes than last year, but Kreis said these are “insignificant” numbers. Red potato production was up somewhat.

“The quality was much better” in the 2014 crop, he noted. “We had more potatoes and better quality.” In December the stocks on hand were the same volume “but there will be less shrink” in the pack-out.

“We were late planting, which cut into the yields, which were average.” Yields overall in the valley were spotty, with some growers having greater yield and others less than a year ago. “Overall it evened out.”

David Moquist, a potato grower-packer-shipper and secretary-treasurer of Crystal, ND-based O.C. Schulz, is pleased by movement into December.

Paul Dolan, manager of Associated Potato Growers Inc., based in Grand Forks, ND, did not see “a lot of Christmas boost” for his potato crop. He added that Associated’s potatoes “are storing and keeping well. There are no frost issues.”

Dolan noted that Associated’s total potato volume is down from a year ago, but the saleable volume is up because of high packouts due to excellent quality.

Small-sized Russet potatoes produced in Idaho and Washington in 2014 have brought down the market and created competition for Red River Valley red potatoes. “This has hurt prices,” Dolan said. He expected the market will improve in January because Wisconsin shippers will have finished most of their shipping and Florida’s spring growers are not expected to have the volume produced a year ago.

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

Fresh Valley Foods and A.J. Letizio Sales announce partnership

Fresh Valley Foods Corp., based in Haverhill, MA, announced it has entered into a retail brokerage partnership with A.J. Letizio Sales & Marketing Inc., based in Windham, NH. Under this new agreement, A.J. Letizio will become Fresh Valley Food’s exclusive retail broker in New England and New York for the processor’s full line of fresh-cut fruit and vegetables.

“We’re all very excited about this new partnership,” Bob Tessitore, senior vice president for A.J. Letizio, said in a press release. “Fresh Valley’s full line of fresh-cut produce is the perfect complement to our current line of fresh foods.”

“With our superior level of quality and customer service, and A.J. Letizio’s outstanding reputation and ability to represent us in the marketplace, we will bring extra savings to our retailers and greater value to our retail customers,” Fresh Valley Foods General Manager C.J. Gangi added in the press release.

Founded in 2010, Fresh Valley Foods Corp. offers a full line of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables for retail and foodservice accounts under the “Freshen Ready,” “All Natural,” “Fresh 21″ and “Fresh Valley” labels.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Red River Valley anticipates a good red potato harvest

Beneficial rains over the Red River Valley in late August and early September were setting the stage for good harvest conditions of the region’s red potato crop.

Ted Kreis, marketing and communications director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, MN, added that good harvest conditions, including a softening of the northern plains soil, can be as important to crop quality as the growing conditions that created the potatoes. If the soil is too hard it can damage the spuds during harvest.

Kreis said some Red River Valley reds were packed and immediately shipped in early September.

“We expect a good crop this year,” Kreis told The Produce News. “The early reports are that everything is looking good now. There have been a lot of samples” but the large harvest for storage wouldn’t begin until mid-September.

“Last year we put about 4 million bags into storage,” he said. “The number this year will be that, or exceed that, this year. I really don’t know. Yields can vary tremendously. It’s hard to guess exact numbers.”

The Red River Valley’s red potato acreage is expected to be up 1 or 2 percent this year. In 2013, the valley produced 23,000 acres of red potatoes. North Dakota produces a total of about 90,000 acres of potatoes. Beyond reds, these are mostly russets that are virtually dedicated to the processing market. Kreis added that the red potato acreage actually includes yellow potatoes, which will represent about 8 percent of the fresh production.

David Moquist, the secretary-treasurer of O.C. Schulz & Sons Inc., located in Crystal, ND, said the quality of the 2014 potato crop looks good, with higher yields than a year ago.

“If demand holds like it did with the Minnesota crop, there is a good chance the price holds,” said Steve Tweten, president and chief executive officer of NoKota Packers Inc., located in Buxton, ND. “If demand goes down” for Red River Valley red potatoes “with extremely cheap russets hitting the market, all bets are off.”

Tweten said russet potatoes “tend to put a ceiling on the market, but the spread in the price between reds and russets the past few years has increased. The ceiling is limited when russets are plentiful and cheap.”

Tweten said, “The potato crop looks nice. The quality is good. We have average tonnage, based on samples. Not everyone will be harvesting until the week of Sept. 15.”

In a press release that Kreis sent to The Produce News on Sept. 5, he said, “All signs are that it will be a very nice crop. Once we got past the late spring planting, growing conditions have been ideal, but we are still predicting average yields, but harvested acres may be up a bit. This would give us between 4.2 million and 4.5 million hundredweight of potatoes for the fresh market; over 90 percent would be reds, the remainder yellows.

“Demand for red and yellow potatoes in both sectors has increased the past two shipping seasons quite rapidly at the expense of russets,” the release from Kreis continued. “I think there are a number of factors including more exposure of colored potatoes on cable food networks, women’s magazines and restaurant menus. There has also been a substantial increase in retail promotions and shelf space, as red potatoes grow in popularity.”

Kreis added, “Red potatoes from the Red River Valley and Central Minnesota are easily the top sellers in supermarkets in most of the two states.”

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

Peapod launches service in Lehigh Valley

Peapod and Ahold USA sister company Giant-Carlisle on Monday said that they have introduced the Peapod home and business delivery service area to communities in Lehigh and Northampton, Pa., counties.

Peapod delivery is now available in the communities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Catasauqua, Easton, Emmaus, Hellertown, Macungie, Nazareth, Trexlertown and Zionsville.

“This expansion effort is in direct response to customer demand,” Andrea Eldridge, SVP commercial, Peapod East Markets, said in a statement. “We have received dozens of requests for each of these ZIP codes, and we are excited to have the opportunity to serve consumers in these new areas.”


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“We’re excited to share this news. The introduction of Peapod to our Lehigh Valley customers showcases Giant’s commitment to convenience and value,” said John MacDonald, Giant’s director of marketing and external communications. “In addition to our convenient store locations, customers now have the opportunity to shop when, where and how they want to with Peapod’s delivery service.”

Peapod service is now available to over 15 million households in the Northeast.

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Rain spells relief in San Luis Valley

Much-hoped-for rain fell in Colorado’s San Luis Valley this summer, giving the region’s potato producers a much-needed respite from ongoing drought conditions and declining aquifer levels.

“The San Luis Valley has had a decent year so far in terms of surface water flows. For the first time in the last several years, stream flow amounts were near normal through most of the irrigation season,” said Craig Cotton, Div. 3 district engineer with the Colorado State Engineer’s office in Alamosa, CO. “This was due mainly to the wet fall that we experienced last year and the summer monsoons that have occurred recently.”

Earlier this year, Cotton reported that conditions in the Rio Grande River Basin were dire. “We have a low of 66 percent of average to a high of 97 percent of average,” he told The Produce News in early January. “We’re the lowest basin the state.”

Increased precipitation has had a meaningful impact. “Because of this surface water availability, the wells have had to pump less than normal amounts for portions of the season,” Cotton said. “In addition, we have seen an increase in the aquifer levels in the valley. This will aid in the recovery of the aquifers back to a long-term sustainable condition.”

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

Rain spells relief in San Luis Valley

Much-hoped-for rain fell in Colorado’s San Luis Valley this summer, giving the region’s potato producers a much-needed respite from ongoing drought conditions and declining aquifer levels.

“The San Luis Valley has had a decent year so far in terms of surface water flows. For the first time in the last several years, stream flow amounts were near normal through most of the irrigation season,” said Craig Cotton, Div. 3 district engineer with the Colorado State Engineer’s office in Alamosa, CO. “This was due mainly to the wet fall that we experienced last year and the summer monsoons that have occurred recently.”

Earlier this year, Cotton reported that conditions in the Rio Grande River Basin were dire. “We have a low of 66 percent of average to a high of 97 percent of average,” he told The Produce News in early January. “We’re the lowest basin the state.”

Increased precipitation has had a meaningful impact. “Because of this surface water availability, the wells have had to pump less than normal amounts for portions of the season,” Cotton said. “In addition, we have seen an increase in the aquifer levels in the valley. This will aid in the recovery of the aquifers back to a long-term sustainable condition.”

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

San Luis Valley Potato Festival celebrates spud harvest

Each fall the San Luis Valley’s many potato farms and packing sheds, along with individuals and families who contribute to Colorado’s rich potato legacy, are celebrated with a harvest festival — and this year’s is shaping up to be one for the history books.

On Sept. 5 and 6 the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee will host the 2014 Potato Festival in Monte Vista not only with an expanded schedule of Friday evening and all day Saturday but also with an expanded focus. As it pays tribute to the Valley’s No. 1 industry, the event will also recognize local servicemen and women who fought and died to keep the United States free.

veterans-parkDonations at the 2014 San Luis Valley Potato Festival will go toward completion of the Faith Hinkley Memorial Park. (Photo courtesy of CPAC)According to Linda Weyers, assistant director of CPAC, the Potato Festival will kick off Friday, Sept. 5, at 5 p.m. with a family-style dinner in the Glen Martinez Memorial Pavilion at Chapman Park on Highway 160 west of downtown Monte Vista. Following the dinner, Colorado Springs singer and entertainer Arch Hooks will begin his performance at 5 p.m. in the pavilion, a structure built in fall 2008 to honor fallen Marine Sgt. Glen Martinez of Monte Vista.

Both dinner and concert are free to the public, and donations will be accepted to go toward expanding the Faith Hinkley Memorial Park in Monte Vista. That park was created in memoriam of 23-year-old Army Sgt. Faith R. Hinkley.

Sgt. Martinez died at age 31 in May 2008 when the Humvee in which he was riding hit a roadside bomb in Iraq. Sgt. Hinkley died in August 2010 when her unit came under attack in Baghdad. Both Martinez and Hinkley were Monte Vista residents and graduates of Monte Vista High School, and both were recipients of numerous medals and ribbons for their service.

Weyers said a portion of the Hinkley Park expansion will include a veterans memorial wall, which will bear the names of all fallen heroes from the region who have died in action.

Saturday’s activities start at 8 a.m. with the arts & crafts and food fair in Chapman Park. An antique tractor display will run simultaneously, and homemade ice cream — and free baked potatoes from the San Luis Valley — will be served until 5 p.m.

As in years past, a free Potato Field Bus Tour running from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. will provide festival-goers the opportunity to learn how potatoes are grown, harvested, packed and shipped, and CPAC will be selling bags of SLV potatoes, T-shirts and cookbooks at its booth. Weyers said that while most of the activities are being conducted at no charge, all donations on Saturday will also go to work on the veterans park.

Always a favorite with the crowd is the annual chefs competition and judging, which brings several professional and student chefs from the American Culinary Federation Colorado Chapter together in a spirited contest to create their tastiest potato dishes. That portion of the festival runs from 12:30-2:30 p.m., and from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. a Downtown Potato Recipe Tasting Tour will give the public a sampling of the versatility and flavor of San Luis Valley spuds.

Throughout the day live entertainment will be provided by Boulder musician Danny Shafer, and kids will be kept busy with a full slate of festival carnival games and competitions, including the popular Potato Decorating and Potato Shooting contests.

For additional information on field tours and cook-off times and locations, contact Weyers at 719/852-3322 or visit the CPAC on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as well as its website, www.coloradopotato.org.

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

US (CA): Heat affects Central Valley grapes

Several weeks of high temperatures in California’s Central San Joaquin Valley have affected table grapes in the region. The heat has had an effect on the sugar content, maturation and colouring.

High temperatures in the valley have reached or topped 100 degrees for most of the month of July, and that intense heat has sped up fruit maturation. The lack of water the state’s growers have had to deal with has also compounded the situation. As Nick Dulcich, of Sunlight International, explained, the drought means there’s less water for vineyards, and dry conditions in the fields have augmented the heat’s effects.

“We usually run water down the furrow in the middle of the rows and get grass growing in between,” said Dulcich. “But because we have less water due to the drought, the soil is dry in the field and there’s no absorption of that heat, so it’s just pure heat on that dirt. It’s stopped the colour, it’s advancing the sugars and some varieties are coming abnormally early.” He pointed to the Princess variety as an example of the effects of the heat. While that variety doesn’t usually come on until August, this year Sunlight will be done with the Princess by July 22 – a full two weeks before it’s usually available. In addition to speeding up maturity, the heat has also been upping sugars.

“Brix for Summer Royal grapes are usually around 18 or 19,” noted Dulcich, “but we’ve measured them at 27 this year, which is unheard of.” While sugars may be up, the timing to get good colouring on the grapes has been thrown off.

“We’ve got fruit that’s got 15 percent colour and 19 brix, and if the fruit doesn’t get the right colour it doesn’t make it to market,” said Dulcich. “We’re worried because, if you look at Scarlet Royals, they have 60 percent colour and a lot more sugar than you’d think. It’s a timing thing, and the heat hit at a time when it affects colour.”

For more information:

Nick Dulcich

Sunlight International

+1 661 792 6360

FreshPlaza.com

US (CA): Heat affects Central Valley grapes

Several weeks of high temperatures in California’s Central San Joaquin Valley have affected table grapes in the region. The heat has had an effect on the sugar content, maturation and colouring.

High temperatures in the valley have reached or topped 100 degrees for most of the month of July, and that intense heat has sped up fruit maturation. The lack of water the state’s growers have had to deal with has also compounded the situation. As Nick Dulcich, of Sunlight International, explained, the drought means there’s less water for vineyards, and dry conditions in the fields have augmented the heat’s effects.

“We usually run water down the furrow in the middle of the rows and get grass growing in between,” said Dulcich. “But because we have less water due to the drought, the soil is dry in the field and there’s no absorption of that heat, so it’s just pure heat on that dirt. It’s stopped the colour, it’s advancing the sugars and some varieties are coming abnormally early.” He pointed to the Princess variety as an example of the effects of the heat. While that variety doesn’t usually come on until August, this year Sunlight will be done with the Princess by July 22 – a full two weeks before it’s usually available. In addition to speeding up maturity, the heat has also been upping sugars.

“Brix for Summer Royal grapes are usually around 18 or 19,” noted Dulcich, “but we’ve measured them at 27 this year, which is unheard of.” While sugars may be up, the timing to get good colouring on the grapes has been thrown off.

“We’ve got fruit that’s got 15 percent colour and 19 brix, and if the fruit doesn’t get the right colour it doesn’t make it to market,” said Dulcich. “We’re worried because, if you look at Scarlet Royals, they have 60 percent colour and a lot more sugar than you’d think. It’s a timing thing, and the heat hit at a time when it affects colour.”

For more information:

Nick Dulcich

Sunlight International

+1 661 792 6360

FreshPlaza.com

How Silicon Valley could revolutionize America’s farming capital

How Silicon Valley could revolutionize America’s farming capital

The perfect storm of “smart farming” is about to be unleashed, with the world’s population expected to surpass 9 billion people by 2050, and the middle class expected to grow from 1.5 billion to 4.5 billion. At the same time there is an increasing emphasis on fresh food and healthy eating, and food production is expected to explode.

According to Norman Borlaug, the Nobel laureate who has been called “the father of the Green Revolution,” “agriculture’s greatest spokesperson” and “The Man Who Saved A billion Lives,” “In the next 40 years, farmers will have to grow as much food as they have in the last 10,000 years — combined.”

Salinas Valley, just an hour south of Silicon Valley, is the fresh food capital of America and home to agricultural giants such as Dole Foods, Chiquita, Driscoll Berries, Taylor Farms, Ocean Mist Farms, JV Smith and Tanimura & Antle, to name a few. Salinas Valley agriculture is an $ 8 billion business and it is here that more than 80 percent of the nation’s lettuce is produced and other top crops, including strawberries, broccoli, artichokes and wine grapes. This is a highly competitive industry that has been refined over five generations, taking out every element of cost, and now it is ripe for innovation.

Brian W. Kocher, Chiquita’s Chief Operating Officer, says,  “We have experienced substantial changes in growing conditions over the last years. It is clear that time-tested agricultural practices are no longer sufficient for an expanding population and we must be smarter and more efficient using increasingly scarce resources such as water. The intersection of agricultural and technical science is rapidly improving yields and efficiencies, and we believe the initiatives to link agricultural innovators with technology innovators will yield substantial benefits for both the population and the planet.”

In Silicon Valley there is a technology revolution taking place with the impact of sensors, big data, mobility, the cloud, drones and the Internet of things (IoT) and it expected that more than 50 billion devices will be connected by 2020. According to new research from International Data Corporation (IDC), a transformation is underway that will see the worldwide market for IoT solutions grow from $ 1.9 trillion in 2013 to $ 7.1 trillion in 2020. IDC defines the Internet of Things as a network of networks of uniquely identifiable endpoints (or “things”) that communicate without human interaction using IP connectivity – be it “locally” or globally.

“Like many industries today, the agriculture industry is being transformed by the use of data, in all its variety,” said Deborah Magid, Director of Software Strategy in IBM’s Venture Capital Group. “Data is everywhere, and over the next few years, innovative new uses of information in all aspects of farming — from yield optimization, to food safety and quality, to distribution, to water management, fertilizer management, connected vehicles and even whole new methods of growing food — will be adopted. It’s already happening. For example, Georgia’s Flint River Partnership and IBM recently announced a collaboration to use Data-Driven Agriculture Solutions to enhance agricultural efficiency by up to 20 percent.”

So the perfect storm is about to be unleashed, with Salinas Valley joining forces with Silicon Valley to make farming “Smart.” This major initiative called Steinbeck Innovation is a breakthrough concept conceived by SVG Partners and developed in conjunction with the City of Salinas to drive Agriculture innovation and technology. To date, the focus has been on driving entrepreneurship through the Kauffman fastTrac program and innovation with leading universities such as UC Davis, ASU, CSUMB and Hartnell College. SVG Partners is now launching a strategic venture fund and accelerator program called Thrive in partnership with major agriculture corporations to drive investment in disruptive new technologies in AgTech.

Source: forbes.com

Publication date: 7/10/2014


FreshPlaza.com

US (CA): Extreme heat and birds threaten Valley grapes

US (CA): Extreme heat and birds threaten Valley grapes

Some Valley growers are in a race against time. The heat is ripening grapes on the vine while labourers work shorter hours because of the high heat. Bright reflective foil strips fly over a Madera vineyard to keep the birds away from the red flame seedless grapes.

Michelle Shackelford of Robert Johnson Farms explained, “Hopefully the wind scares the birds away by flapping the tape.” But Shackelford said the strips don’t keep enough of the hungry birds away. “No, they don’t. It lasts for about a day. Helps for about a day.”

Fortunately the grape crop was healthy and heavy. Shackelford said the red flame harvest started a little early this year. In another week all of the bunches will be a nice red colour because of the intense heat.

Michelle said, “This heat is pushing them to colour. They’re colouring much faster.”

The leafy canopy helps protect the grapes from sunburn as does the grass growing in each row. Shackelford said, “Grapes need circulation, air circulation to prevent mildew growth but on top they like a nice umbrella.”

Shackelford added the hot streak will damage some of her varieties.

“It’s also going to impact I think the Thompson crop, “said Shackelford. “I think we’re going to see some burn on 5-10% of the crop.”

The red flames are sold locally at The Market and Whole Foods under the Robert Johnson Farms label as well as the Jenelle brand, which combines the names of Michelle and her sister Jennifer.

Please click here to view the video report.

Source: abc30.com

Publication date: 7/9/2014


FreshPlaza.com

US (CA): Extreme heat and birds threaten Valley grapes

US (CA): Extreme heat and birds threaten Valley grapes

Some Valley growers are in a race against time. The heat is ripening grapes on the vine while labourers work shorter hours because of the high heat. Bright reflective foil strips fly over a Madera vineyard to keep the birds away from the red flame seedless grapes.

Michelle Shackelford of Robert Johnson Farms explained, “Hopefully the wind scares the birds away by flapping the tape.” But Shackelford said the strips don’t keep enough of the hungry birds away. “No, they don’t. It lasts for about a day. Helps for about a day.”

Fortunately the grape crop was healthy and heavy. Shackelford said the red flame harvest started a little early this year. In another week all of the bunches will be a nice red colour because of the intense heat.

Michelle said, “This heat is pushing them to colour. They’re colouring much faster.”

The leafy canopy helps protect the grapes from sunburn as does the grass growing in each row. Shackelford said, “Grapes need circulation, air circulation to prevent mildew growth but on top they like a nice umbrella.”

Shackelford added the hot streak will damage some of her varieties.

“It’s also going to impact I think the Thompson crop, “said Shackelford. “I think we’re going to see some burn on 5-10% of the crop.”

The red flames are sold locally at The Market and Whole Foods under the Robert Johnson Farms label as well as the Jenelle brand, which combines the names of Michelle and her sister Jennifer.

Please click here to view the video report.

Source: abc30.com

Publication date: 7/9/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Early start, smooth transition seen for San Joaquin Valley grapes

The spring grape deals out of Sonora, Mexico, and California’s Coachella Valley both got off to an early start this year and are expected to finish earlier than usual for most varieties, but grape shippers anticipate a smooth transition from those districts into the San Joaquin Valley as the early vineyards in the San Joaquin are also ahead of schedule.

“At this point, it looks like we will be starting in the San Joaquin  Valley sometime the week of June 16,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “Then we will be busy picking and packing probably into December, if the last two years are any indication, and shipping into February.”01-EarlySJV-CropThe 2014 California grape crop is forecast to total 116.5 million 19-pound boxes, which would edge out the previous record set in 2013. (Photo courtesy of the California Table Grape Commission)

One strength of the California table grape industry is “that it is such a long season,” said Nave. ”The fact that we started in Coachella Valley this year April 28 and will be picking grapes in California into December and shipping them into February is a tremendous strength in markets around the world.  So we need volume that begins in May and carries us all the way through that time period, because we have a lot of customers,” including retailers and foodservice operators around the world who want product on a consistent basis, and the more of that we can provide the better.”

For that reason, “it is critically important that we have fruit in the Coachella  Valley” in the spring “and that we have fruit in the San Joaquin Valley” early enough that there is “a seamless transition” from Coachella. That early San Joaquin Valley fruit carries from late spring into summer, “then that carries us into the fall, which carries us into the winter,” Nave said.

This year, “we are expecting that we will be picking fruit in the Coachella Valley into the end of June,” she said. “The San Joaquin Valley will start probably the third week” of June, and by the fourth week, “we should have a lot of people going in the San Joaquin Valley. That is a good transition from one valley to the other. But from my perspective, we have a California table grape crop, and that begins in May, and we ship the final boxes into February.”

The 2013 California fresh grape crop exceeded expectations and came in at a record 116.2 million 19-pound boxes. The 2014 crop is officially estimated at 116.5 million boxes, which, if realized, would just edge out last year’s record.

The earlier start to the California grape season this year is giving growers a longer time to market their crop, said John Harley, vice president of sales and marketing at Anthony Vineyards Inc. in Bakersfield, CA, which has grapes in the Coachella Valley as well as the San Joaquin Valley. “There is not a lot of pressure forcing movement, so the prices have been stable,” he said. “It has been good thus far, and I really do see that moving into the Arvin district as well.”

Several California shippers are also involved in the Sonora spring grape deal which roughly coincides, timing-wise, with the Coachella deal. Most Sonora grapes are grown in the Hermosillo area and the Caborca area. Hermosillo, the earlier of the two districts, is not only trending early this spring but is packing out lighter than anticipated. Caborca, the later district, appears to have a more normal sized crop. “We think that will have the effect,” at least on green grape varieties, of providing “steady supplies and a stable market. We think that will transition nicely,” said Shaun  Ricks, vice president of Eagle Eye Grape Guys LLC in Visalia, CA.

Caborca should continue picking through around June 15-20 on Sugraones, and Arvin, traditionally the earliest district in the San Joaquin Valley, will start about that same time. “We do not anticipate that there will be significant inventories of Sugraones out of Mexico, so that could be a very seamless transition,” Ricks said.

On red grapes, “because the Hermosillo district is lighter, it is not going to carry over a lot of fruit into June. Therefore, the [Mexican] Flame supplies for the month of June must all come from Caborca, and the demand will be greater than that. Therefore, we expect that the Flame market will increase in price every week as we go through the month of June.” That increase has already started and was noticeable as early as May 27, he said.

The Grape Guys anticipated its first Sugraones in Arvin close to June 16, with Flames starting around June 23, he said.

Ricks was confident that California grape producers would set another volume record this year and that within a few short years, volume would exceed 125 million boxes, with the shipping season continuing to extend. “We will, as an industry, be commonly shipping through January 15,” he said. Some years, the San Joaquin Valley may finish up earlier, but “that will be the exception.”

 Most years, “with the ability to cover the vineyards and the ability to pick and put in pick tubs and pack at a later time as needed, so that the fruit is as freshly packed as possible, are things that are going to allow us to go later than ever. If I were the Chileans and the Peruvians, I would take heed and not try to be early. I think there is still a place for them, but I think that place is beginning more in February, with maybe a trickle in January,” he said.

“We like where we are as an industry,” Ricks added. “I think we are in a good position. We just have to manage it and be good stewards and make sure that the product we are shipping out is suitable.”

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

Early start, smooth transition seen for San Joaquin Valley grapes

The spring grape deals out of Sonora, Mexico, and California’s Coachella Valley both got off to an early start this year and are expected to finish earlier than usual for most varieties, but grape shippers anticipate a smooth transition from those districts into the San Joaquin Valley as the early vineyards in the San Joaquin are also ahead of schedule.

“At this point, it looks like we will be starting in the San Joaquin  Valley sometime the week of June 16,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “Then we will be busy picking and packing probably into December, if the last two years are any indication, and shipping into February.”01-EarlySJV-CropThe 2014 California grape crop is forecast to total 116.5 million 19-pound boxes, which would edge out the previous record set in 2013. (Photo courtesy of the California Table Grape Commission)

One strength of the California table grape industry is “that it is such a long season,” said Nave. ”The fact that we started in Coachella Valley this year April 28 and will be picking grapes in California into December and shipping them into February is a tremendous strength in markets around the world.  So we need volume that begins in May and carries us all the way through that time period, because we have a lot of customers,” including retailers and foodservice operators around the world who want product on a consistent basis, and the more of that we can provide the better.”

For that reason, “it is critically important that we have fruit in the Coachella  Valley” in the spring “and that we have fruit in the San Joaquin Valley” early enough that there is “a seamless transition” from Coachella. That early San Joaquin Valley fruit carries from late spring into summer, “then that carries us into the fall, which carries us into the winter,” Nave said.

This year, “we are expecting that we will be picking fruit in the Coachella Valley into the end of June,” she said. “The San Joaquin Valley will start probably the third week” of June, and by the fourth week, “we should have a lot of people going in the San Joaquin Valley. That is a good transition from one valley to the other. But from my perspective, we have a California table grape crop, and that begins in May, and we ship the final boxes into February.”

The 2013 California fresh grape crop exceeded expectations and came in at a record 116.2 million 19-pound boxes. The 2014 crop is officially estimated at 116.5 million boxes, which, if realized, would just edge out last year’s record.

The earlier start to the California grape season this year is giving growers a longer time to market their crop, said John Harley, vice president of sales and marketing at Anthony Vineyards Inc. in Bakersfield, CA, which has grapes in the Coachella Valley as well as the San Joaquin Valley. “There is not a lot of pressure forcing movement, so the prices have been stable,” he said. “It has been good thus far, and I really do see that moving into the Arvin district as well.”

Several California shippers are also involved in the Sonora spring grape deal which roughly coincides, timing-wise, with the Coachella deal. Most Sonora grapes are grown in the Hermosillo area and the Caborca area. Hermosillo, the earlier of the two districts, is not only trending early this spring but is packing out lighter than anticipated. Caborca, the later district, appears to have a more normal sized crop. “We think that will have the effect,” at least on green grape varieties, of providing “steady supplies and a stable market. We think that will transition nicely,” said Shaun  Ricks, vice president of Eagle Eye Grape Guys LLC in Visalia, CA.

Caborca should continue picking through around June 15-20 on Sugraones, and Arvin, traditionally the earliest district in the San Joaquin Valley, will start about that same time. “We do not anticipate that there will be significant inventories of Sugraones out of Mexico, so that could be a very seamless transition,” Ricks said.

On red grapes, “because the Hermosillo district is lighter, it is not going to carry over a lot of fruit into June. Therefore, the [Mexican] Flame supplies for the month of June must all come from Caborca, and the demand will be greater than that. Therefore, we expect that the Flame market will increase in price every week as we go through the month of June.” That increase has already started and was noticeable as early as May 27, he said.

The Grape Guys anticipated its first Sugraones in Arvin close to June 16, with Flames starting around June 23, he said.

Ricks was confident that California grape producers would set another volume record this year and that within a few short years, volume would exceed 125 million boxes, with the shipping season continuing to extend. “We will, as an industry, be commonly shipping through January 15,” he said. Some years, the San Joaquin Valley may finish up earlier, but “that will be the exception.”

 Most years, “with the ability to cover the vineyards and the ability to pick and put in pick tubs and pack at a later time as needed, so that the fruit is as freshly packed as possible, are things that are going to allow us to go later than ever. If I were the Chileans and the Peruvians, I would take heed and not try to be early. I think there is still a place for them, but I think that place is beginning more in February, with maybe a trickle in January,” he said.

“We like where we are as an industry,” Ricks added. “I think we are in a good position. We just have to manage it and be good stewards and make sure that the product we are shipping out is suitable.”

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

Coachella Valley grapes two weeks early

A warm winter followed by a warm spring has crops in the Coachella Valley of California coming off sooner this year, including a two week earlier start to the grape deal.

The Coachella Valley deal, which kicks off the California grape season each year, saw its first grapes picked around April 24. Many grower-packers were expected to get into the swing of things during the week of April 28, and the rest following suit the following week. By May 12, growers and shippers were predicting that volume would be heavy and typical of end of May shipments in a normal year.

Rob Spinelli, a salesman for Anthony Vineyards, which is headquartered in Bakersfield, CA, said the early start is very significant because it will allow California growers to take part in the normally heavy demand period leading up to the Memorial Day weekend. That weekend marks the beginning of summer for people all over the country and they often celebrate with picnics including grapes. If Coachella didn’t start shipping until May 15, it wouldn’t get into heavy volume until about two weeks later, which would make it miss the holiday pull. This year, Memorial Day falls on May 26 so the heavier demand will start around May 16.

Perlettes, an old-time green grape variety which has given way to many newer varieties over the years, is still typically the first grape harvested. Grower-shippers wanting to be early still hold on to their Perlette acreage to capitalize on the early market.

Steve Root of East West Unlimited in Coachella is one of those that still handles the Perlette. He always wants to be the first shipper with grapes from Coachella and attempts to accomplish that with the early maturing varieties as well as a favorable micro-climate where his vineyards are located. “I want to be in and out of the deal within five weeks,” he said.

This year that means a marketing window of about April 24 to the end of May.

Most of the shippers predicted that the Coachella Valley crop will come in somewhere around the six million carton mark, which is fairly typical.

David Clyde, president of Steveco, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, said it appears that there will be very little if any overlap with the Chilean fruit. Steveco’s California grape crop should begin to be harvested the week of May 5 and he said Chile will be out of the deal by then. Steveco said Mexico will have begun shipping by then as it’s production typically mirrors that in Coachella in terms of timing.

Because of the early start, Clyde said it is quite possible that the deal will end a bit early. He is anticipating an early July finish compared to a middle of July end to the Coachella Valley season last year.

Nick Bozick, president of Richard Bagdasarian Inc., Mecca, CA, said the ideal growing conditions have also produced a very high-quality piece of fruit this year. “The grapes look very, very good,” he said in mid-April, commenting on grapes that were about two weeks from harvest.

The Flame Seedless are the largest producer in the valley followed by Sugraone, which is a green variety that replaced the Perlettes and the Thompson Seedless in the desert. No other variety comes close to those two in volume, but Coachella has many other varieties that grower-shippers offer including Summer Royals, Scarlett Royals, Sweet Scarlets, Magenta, and the aforementioned Perlettes, although production of that once-dominant variety is down to about 20,000 to 30,000 boxes.

Mike Aiton, marketing manager for Coachella, CA-based Prime Time International, a shipper of peppers and other vegetables, said just like the grapes, the vegetables are also early this year and for the same reason. The pepper crop, he said was about one week early. The same was true with sweet corn and watermelon. Aiton cautioned buyers to pay close attention to the watermelon and sweet corn supplies as May moves forward. Both of those items see demand spikes as Memorial Day approaches. Aiton said because of the earlier-than-usual start, supplies of those items toward the end of May might be less plentiful then in the past. Buyers may need to look elsewhere to augment orders.

One interesting note about this desert district is that it does not have any water problems this year. Though California is in the midst of a drought, which will see hundreds of thousands of acres followed this summer, virtually none of Coachella Valley’s spring crops are affected.

“It is ironic,” said Bozick of Bagdasarian, noting that this desert agricultural region has plenty of water for everyone to plant and produce their normal production. “I credit our water district,” he said. “They are very aggressive. They recharge our ground water whenever they can and they have worked out an agreement with the government to take care of our long term needs.”

The local irrigation district did sign an agreement with federal and state agencies several years ago guaranteeing a specific water delivery amount each year from the Colorado River. That basically allows all growers to plant their crops without fear of running out of water… no matter how hot it gets.

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

Coachella Valley grapes two weeks early

A warm winter followed by a warm spring has crops in the Coachella Valley of California coming off sooner this year, including a two week earlier start to the grape deal.

The Coachella Valley deal, which kicks off the California grape season each year, saw its first grapes picked around April 24. Many grower-packers were expected to get into the swing of things during the week of April 28, and the rest following suit the following week. By May 12, growers and shippers were predicting that volume would be heavy and typical of end of May shipments in a normal year.

Rob Spinelli, a salesman for Anthony Vineyards, which is headquartered in Bakersfield, CA, said the early start is very significant because it will allow California growers to take part in the normally heavy demand period leading up to the Memorial Day weekend. That weekend marks the beginning of summer for people all over the country and they often celebrate with picnics including grapes. If Coachella didn’t start shipping until May 15, it wouldn’t get into heavy volume until about two weeks later, which would make it miss the holiday pull. This year, Memorial Day falls on May 26 so the heavier demand will start around May 16.

Perlettes, an old-time green grape variety which has given way to many newer varieties over the years, is still typically the first grape harvested. Grower-shippers wanting to be early still hold on to their Perlette acreage to capitalize on the early market.

Steve Root of East West Unlimited in Coachella is one of those that still handles the Perlette. He always wants to be the first shipper with grapes from Coachella and attempts to accomplish that with the early maturing varieties as well as a favorable micro-climate where his vineyards are located. “I want to be in and out of the deal within five weeks,” he said.

This year that means a marketing window of about April 24 to the end of May.

Most of the shippers predicted that the Coachella Valley crop will come in somewhere around the six million carton mark, which is fairly typical.

David Clyde, president of Steveco, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, said it appears that there will be very little if any overlap with the Chilean fruit. Steveco’s California grape crop should begin to be harvested the week of May 5 and he said Chile will be out of the deal by then. Steveco said Mexico will have begun shipping by then as it’s production typically mirrors that in Coachella in terms of timing.

Because of the early start, Clyde said it is quite possible that the deal will end a bit early. He is anticipating an early July finish compared to a middle of July end to the Coachella Valley season last year.

Nick Bozick, president of Richard Bagdasarian Inc., Mecca, CA, said the ideal growing conditions have also produced a very high-quality piece of fruit this year. “The grapes look very, very good,” he said in mid-April, commenting on grapes that were about two weeks from harvest.

The Flame Seedless are the largest producer in the valley followed by Sugraone, which is a green variety that replaced the Perlettes and the Thompson Seedless in the desert. No other variety comes close to those two in volume, but Coachella has many other varieties that grower-shippers offer including Summer Royals, Scarlett Royals, Sweet Scarlets, Magenta, and the aforementioned Perlettes, although production of that once-dominant variety is down to about 20,000 to 30,000 boxes.

Mike Aiton, marketing manager for Coachella, CA-based Prime Time International, a shipper of peppers and other vegetables, said just like the grapes, the vegetables are also early this year and for the same reason. The pepper crop, he said was about one week early. The same was true with sweet corn and watermelon. Aiton cautioned buyers to pay close attention to the watermelon and sweet corn supplies as May moves forward. Both of those items see demand spikes as Memorial Day approaches. Aiton said because of the earlier-than-usual start, supplies of those items toward the end of May might be less plentiful then in the past. Buyers may need to look elsewhere to augment orders.

One interesting note about this desert district is that it does not have any water problems this year. Though California is in the midst of a drought, which will see hundreds of thousands of acres followed this summer, virtually none of Coachella Valley’s spring crops are affected.

“It is ironic,” said Bozick of Bagdasarian, noting that this desert agricultural region has plenty of water for everyone to plant and produce their normal production. “I credit our water district,” he said. “They are very aggressive. They recharge our ground water whenever they can and they have worked out an agreement with the government to take care of our long term needs.”

The local irrigation district did sign an agreement with federal and state agencies several years ago guaranteeing a specific water delivery amount each year from the Colorado River. That basically allows all growers to plant their crops without fear of running out of water… no matter how hot it gets.

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

Onion harvest in state’s Imperial Valley expected to start late April

With favorable weather during the growing season, onion growers in California’s Imperial Valley are expecting good yields, good size and good quality this year. Anticipating start dates for harvest in truckload volumes range from April 21 to May 1, although some early harvesting had already begun as of the second week of April.

“As you drive through the valley right now, you can really smell the onions,” said Kay Pricola, executive director of the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association, April 11. “It smells wonderful.”

The Imperial Valley, one of California’s major onion growing districts and the earliest to harvest, is located at the southern tip of California, about 130 miles inland from San Diego. “This was a former sea,” said Pricola. “We are below sea level.” It is a desert area irrigated with water from the Colorado River “thanks to some brilliant pioneers.”

02-CalOnions-displayA retail display in a California supermarket. (Photo by Rand Green)When the current water contracts and agreements were made in the 1930s, “no one wanted the water, because at that point it was not considered great water. Now everyone wants it,” she said. “All things are relative.”

Although California is in its third year of a severe drought, onion growers in the Imperial Valley say they have sufficient water for this year’s crop. However, they are concerned about the water situation should the drought continue for another year.

From a soil perspective, the valley is well suited to onions. “Our soil is fairly unique, because it is an old ocean bed,” Pricola said. “There is high salinity to our soil, and there are a lot of soil types. Farmers around here have creatively figured out how to get high production on those varieties of soil” with crops that will tolerate the salt content of the soil, and onions are among the crops that do well in those soils.

“All types of onions” are grown in the valley, she said. That includes red, yellow and white storage onions, sweet onions and even green onions.

The total acreage planted to onions in the Imperial Valley in 2012, the most recent year for which final data are available, was around 8,500 acres. Roughly half of the production grown is for the fresh or fresh-cut market and a similar amount for processing. Seed onions are also an important crop.

Statewide in 2013, total bulb onion production in California was about 50,000 acres, a figure that normally doesn’t fluctuate much from year to year, according to Robert C. (Bob) Ehn, chief executive officer and technical manager of the California Garlic & Onion Research Advisory Board, which represents processed onion producers in the state.

According to a publication from the University of California Research & Information Center entitled “Fresh-Market Bulb Onion Production in California,” the main production areas for onions in California are “the low desert (Imperial and Riverside Counties), the San Joaquin Valley (Fresno, Kern and San Joaquin Counties), the Southern and Central Coast (Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Ventura counties) and the high desert (eastern Los Angeles County). Bulb onions are planted September through May. Harvest begins in April or May and is usually completed in September.”

Fresh market and fresh-cut onions make up about 45 percent of total bulb onion acreage in the state, according to the UC publication. California ranks among the top fresh-bulb-producing states in the United States.

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

USDA Closes Central Valley Meat Co. Over Cleanliness Failures

California’s Central Valley Meat Co. has been indefinitely closed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for failing to meet cleanliness standards.

“FSIS withdrew our inspectors and suspended operations due to insanitary conditions at the establishment,” the agency said in an emailed statement to Food Safety News. ”The plant’s suspension will be lifted once we receive adequate assurances of corrective action.”

The USDA previously shut down Central Valley in 2012 for inhumane handling of animals after an undercover video showed alleged violations of humane slaughter laws taking place at the slaughterhouse. Central Valley employees were caught on camera torturing cattle with prods and subjecting them to other inhumane treatment.

No recall has been initiated in the latest closure, suggesting federal authorities are not treating this as a food safety issue.

Central Valley supplies beef to the National School Lunch Program. In 2012, Food Safety News reported that Central Valley beef had accounted for roughly 16 percent of beef purchases made by the USDA during the 2010-2011 school year.

Food Safety News

Torrential rain destroys grapes in South Africa’s Hex River Valley

“between half a million and a million boxes no longer good for export”
Torrential rain destroys grapes in South Africa’s Hex River Valley

Grape growers in the Hex River Valley in South Africa have been again hit by torrential rain. The damage is still being measured but European importers are reporting that there could be between half a million to a million boxes of grapes which are no longer of export quality. “So much rain at this time of the year is very unusual in South Africa and large volumes have been destroyed particularly in the Hex River Valley and also to a lesser extent in the Berg River. When 100 mm of rain falls in South Africa the soil is washed away’ said Gilbert Klingenberg van Exsa Europe.

According to the importer it is mainly Flame and other red varieties which have been hardest hit. “From the white varieties it was the Sugraone that was mostly affected, but it was mainly the red varieties. The later varieties are not yet ripe so the damage may be limited, but the early varieties have been hard hit and are no longer suitable for export. At the very best these will be sold on the local market.”

Gilbert explains that the damage will also affect the price of red grape varieties. “The prices are already around two Euro higher that last week. It is expected that the red grapes will be the scarcest. The price of white grapes has up to now stayed stable. This kind of damage is never good but this has happened at a very bad time. The Namibian season has finished, Argentina and Chile have also had problems and Indian grape won’t be on the market until the end of February.

For more information:
Exsa Europe
Tel: +31 88 735 0003
Mob: +31 620 25 78 11
[email protected]
www.exsaeurope.com

Publication date: 1/15/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Reforestation in Lower Mississippi Valley reduces sediment

Dec. 2, 2013 — A modeling study by U.S. Forest Service researchers shows that reforesting the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley can significantly reduce runoff from agricultural lands and the amount of sediment entering the area’s rivers and streams — and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. The journal Ecological Engineering recently published the results of the study by Forest Service Southern Research Station scientists Ying Ouyang, Ted Leininger, and Matt Moran.

The Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, located in the historic floodplain of the Mississippi River, stretches from Cairo, Illinois south to the Gulf of Mexico. One of the largest coastal and river basins in the world, the area is also one of the most affected by floods, erosion, and sediment deposition as a result of more than a century of converting bottomland hardwood forests to agricultural lands.

Sediments from frequently flooded agricultural lands often carry pesticides and fertilizers, the latter associated with the formation of the hypoxic (low oxygen) dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Forest buffers reduce runoff and sediment load from flooded agricultural lands; in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, the frequently flooded agricultural land in the batture (land that lies between a river and its levees, pronounced batch-er) seems a prime site to start reforestation efforts.

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) commissioned the study, and co-funded it with Forest Service State and Private Forestry. “This study provides further evidence of the key role forests play in flood control and in reducing sediment flow from agricultural lands into our watersheds,” notes Carlton Owen, president and CEO of the Endowment. “The new forest areas would also provide regional economic and environmental benefits by not only improving water quality but also wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.”

The researchers chose two Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley watersheds — the large Lower Yazoo River Watershed and the smaller Peters Creek Watershed — to model the effects of reforestation in or near the battures on water outflow and sediment load (the amount of solid material carried by a river or stream). They performed two simulations, the first to predict water outflow and sediment load without reforestation, the second to project over 10 years the potential impacts of converting different levels — 25, 50, 75, and 100 percent — of the land to forest in or near the battures.

“Comparing simulation results with and without reforestation showed that converting agricultural lands close to streams into forests would greatly lessen water outflow and reduce the effects of sediment load as far as the Gulf of Mexico,” says Ouyang, lead author of the article and research hydrologist at the SRS Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research. “In general, the larger the area converted, the greater the effect. For the Lower Yazoo River watershed, a two-fold increase in forest land area would result in approximately a two-fold reduction in the annual volume of water outflow and the mass of sediment load moving into the river.”

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News