UPDATE SUMMARY: WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 19, 2022

September 22, 2022

Bell Peppers

East Coast green bell peppers are transitioning south as the cool autumn weather sets in. Markon First Crop (MFC) and Markon Essentials (ESS) Green and Red Bell Peppers are available.

Green Bells

  • North Carolina is the main East Coast supply region
    • Overall quality is good with all size options available
    • The summer seasons in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan are slowing down
  • Georgia production is expected to start in the next 7-10 days; reported insect pressure may cause some quality issues in the early season
  • California coastal production (near Hollister and Arroyo Grande) is limited due to rain this past weekend; growers packed early last week to help fill orders
  • Quality is excellent: peppers are solid with deep color
  • Central Mexico has limited volume (crossing the South Texas border)
  • Expect slightly higher markets this week

Red Bells

  • California stocks are tight due to recent rain in the Hollister region; quality is excellent as suppliers are harvesting new fields
  • Central Mexican production is light but expected to increase to season levels over the next two weeks
  • The Canadian greenhouse season is past its peak
    • Size has decreased
    • The crop is dominated by large and medium peppers
  • Expect prices to remain steady over the next two weeks

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Broccoli

  • MFC Broccoli is available in Salinas, California
  • Supplies are increasing as fields rebound following the recent heatwave in Salinas and Santa Maria, California
  • The quality of Central Mexican broccoli (shipped into South Texas) has improved; however, insect pressure persists
    • MFC Broccoli is not available in South Texas
    • Packer label is being shipped
  • Expect slightly lower prices over the next two to three weeks as supplies increase in all growing regions

Cauliflower

  • ESS Cauliflower is available in Salinas, California
  • Quality is good: some lots are exhibiting off-color and brown spotting following the recent heatwave
  • Supplies are tightening as growers work through quality-challenged fields
  • Markets are expected to continue inching up over the next two weeks, until quality improves

Green Cabbage

The market is elevated. Supplies are limited; demand remains strong.

  • The heatwave that California experienced in early September has reduced yields at the field level
    • Disease/insect pressure and more seeder core have developed
    • Lower yields per acre have significantly reduced availability for processors, driving the general market higher
  • Central Coastal and Salinas Valley suppliers are harvesting ahead of schedule to avoid further quality issues
  • Expect elevated prices out of California over the next 10-14 days
  • Michigan and Ohio are working the last two weeks of the season; poor quality and decreased volume have been reported
  • Georgia and North Carolina cabbage harvesting will be starting next week as domestic supplies transition farther south for fall

Strawberries

California strawberry quality continues to recover after heavy rainfall in all growing regions. Expect to see challenged quality for the next 7-10 days as well as elevated markets.

  • Growers continue culling rain-damaged fruit, leading to slower production in all growing regions
  • Quality concerns include soft skin, decay, white shoulders, and pin rot
  • The industry is in a demand-exceeds-supply situation; expect prorates through the rest of this week
  • Berry quality and crop volume will increase gradually over the next two to three weeks as plants recover
  • Expect strong demand and elevated markets for the next two to three weeks

Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melons

MFC Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melons are available; prices are rising as the summer season begins to wind down. Expect markets to remain elevated through October as both crops transition south; domestic supplies will continue shipping through mid- to late November.

Cantaloupe

  • Prices are higher as the California San Joaquin Valley season approaches its completion in mid- to late October
  • Size is peaking on 9-count fruit; 15-count and smaller remain extremely limited
  • The Yuma/Imperial Valley cantaloupe season will begin in late October
  • Flexibility on cantaloupe sizing may be necessary during transition

Honeydew

  • Markets are inching up
  • Volume is falling as the upcoming harvesting transition nears
  • Size is dominated by five-count melons; eight-count and smaller remain extremely limited
  • Supplies are expected to tighten up through the end of September and into October
  • Pricing will inch up into October

Cucumbers

Supplies on the West Coast are extremely tight as growers recover from past weather in Mexico. Markets are elevated.

  • MFC and ESS Cucumbers are extremely limited; packer label is being substituted as necessary
  • Growers in Baja Mexico must walk away from some fields due to last week’s flooding from Hurricane Kay
    • Quality is average: plain grade stocks are the most readily available
    • West Coast stocks (crossing through Otay Mesa, California) will be very snug until production in mainland Mexico is fully underway in late-October
    • Central Mexico is providing light supplies (crossing into south Texas)
  • Most of the East Coast supply has transitioned from the northern states of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and others, down to North Carolina
    • Quality is very good: all sizes are available
    • The Georgia season will start in a limited manner next week
  • Expect prices to remain elevated over the next two weeks

From the Fields: Quality Alert Flyers in Select Ready-Set-Serve (RSS) Items

Row crop lettuce items in the Salinas Valley are currently challenged due to recent heat spikes followed by rainfall earlier this week. The soil disease and plant virus pressure has heavily impacted yields over the past two months. Value-added romaine is seeing a drop in quality and shelf-life performance, as growers have been forced to harvest younger plants which are more open, less dense, and darker in color in hopes of mitigating further yield losses from weather and die-off issues. Despite best efforts by harvesting and processing crews, affected product cannot be 100% removed with extra trimming or sorting.

Effective immediately, the attached flyer (English only) will be temporarily placed in the below-mentioned Ready-Set-Serve (RSS) items sourced from the Salinas Valley. These flyers will communicate the issues related to the unfavorable weather and crop health concerns. A version of the flyer translated into French and Spanish is attached for your reference.

  • RSS Chopped Romaine – 6/2#
  • RSS Chopped Romaine 1×1 – 6/2#
  • RSS Chopped Romaine/Heritage Blend – 4/2#
  • RSS Romaine Ribbons 3/8″ – 6/2#
  • RSS Romaine/Iceberg Blend 50/50 – 4/5#

Maintaining the cold chain throughout distribution is critical for maximizing quality and shelf-life. Markon inspectors will be monitoring quality and working with suppliers to select the best product available.

From the Fields: Salinas Valley Rain

California’s Salinas Valley received scattered showers on Sunday, September 18. Skies cleared overnight, but a steady rain returned Tuesday morning, September 20. Isolated showers lingered through that evening. Most areas saw .50” of total rainfall, but storm-affected areas received upwards of 1”.

Growers packed ahead to cover orders for Monday-loading trucks and reduce their production needs for the day. Field conditions are muddy; workers will be taking measures to keep cartons as clean and dry as possible, but some suppliers canceled or curtailed harvests. Loading delays can be expected over the next two or three days.

Forecasts call for a return of high pressure and warming temperatures. Markon inspectors are assessing fields and will update further once the weather’s impacts on production, quality, and shelf-life potential of broccoli, lettuce, strawberries and other Salinas row crops are more clear.

From the Fields: Weather & Quality Challenges in Salinas, California

Raw product supplies of iceberg, leaf and other row crops in the Salinas Valley are being challenged due to the recent California heat wave, and yield losses from soil diseases and plant viruses.

Commodity and value-added lettuce items are both exhibiting heat-stress, mildew pressure, reduced yields, and a noticeable decline in shelf-life performance. Markon Best Available (MBA) is being substituted mostly due to light weights from growers harvesting younger fields. Value-added suppliers are allocating the best raw product for RSS packs, but it is extremely difficult to eliminate 100% of the damage from abnormally high temperatures, soil disease, and plant viruses. Chopped romaine and some baby leaf products are especially likely to have decreased shelf-life for the next few weeks, but shredded lettuce and other salad blends will also have sub-standard performance.

The first rain of the season arrived Sunday, September 18 and lingered through Tuesday, September 20 with totals ranging from a half inch to an inch of rain. Markon suppliers packed orders ahead to reduce the chance of shortages due to poor field conditions.

Maintaining the cold chain throughout distribution is critical for maximizing quality and shelf-life. Markon inspectors will be monitoring quality and working with suppliers to select the best product available.

Onions

MFC Onion harvesting continues to progress in Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

  • Markets have eased as overall demand is weaker than recent weeks; fall harvesting is in full swing
  • Yellow onion size remains dominated by medium sizes, with an adequate jumbo supply
    • Colossal and super colossal onions remain limited
    • There is a significant price gap of $7.00 to $8.00 between medium and jumbo yellow packs; medium onions can make a viable substitution for No. 2 jumbo yellows
  • Red onion pack-outs are mainly mediums, but sufficient jumbos are available
  • Size is increasing as growers are now packing later-planted onions
  • Growers will begin to pack and ship onions out of storage in early October
  • Quality is excellent as summer heat has subsided; growing regions are now seeing dry, warm days and cool nights
  • New crop onions will have a rounder, more globe-like shape than supplies shipped during the spring and summer months; early season supplies will still exhibit thin, light-colored skins until shipped out of storage

Oranges

The California Valencia season is winding down faster than expected, especially 88-count and smaller sizes. Prices are rising and availability of smaller fruit continues to decrease. Offshore Navels will be supplemented, as needed.

  • MFC and ESS Valencia Oranges are sporadic; packer label supplies are being substituted as needed
  • Rain hit the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California Coastal regions Sunday, September 18 and Monday, September 19
  • Valencia supplies will be extremely limited until Navels begin shipping in early November
  • Valencia quality concerns include re-greening and softness due to above-normal temperatures
    • Soft fruit can result in pressure compression/misshapen fruit and stem-end aging spots
    • Extreme heat is causing Valencia supplies to re-absorb chlorophyll, resulting in a green tint on rinds
  • Offshore oranges from Chile, Morocco, South Africa, and Uruguay are available on the East Coast
  • Chilean stocks may need to be substituted for California Valencias as soon as the next two to three weeks in order to meet demand
  • Imports are dominated by 88-count and larger sizes, as well as fancy grade fruit
  • Prices for imported Navels currently run $8.00 to $10.00 higher per case than California Valencias; that spread is expected to tighten as domestic supplies dwindle and California Valencia prices strengthen

Potatoes

Fresh-run, new crop MFC Norkotah Potatoes are currently be shipped out of Idaho and Washington. Prices for large sizes remain elevated; markets for smaller sizes have eased.

Norkotahs

  • Large-size Idaho Norkotah supplies (40- through 60-count) remain tight; small-size potatoes (70- through 100-count) are ample
  • Large-size order fulfillment is improving, but will remain sporadic
  • Norkotah quality remains good; skinning and excess moisture may be observed in fresh-run potatoes
  • MFC Norkotah Potatoes will begin to ship out of storage in mid-October

Burbanks

  • New crop Burbank harvesting will start in late September; packer label cartons will be available to ship
  • MFC Burbank Potatoes will be available once the sweat process is completed, approximately late October/early November

RSS Green Onions

The green onion market continues to rise; supplies remain extremely limited.

  • Recent sustained heat has slowed onion maturity, resulting in persistently lower yields
  • Tropical Storm Kay landed in the Baja and Northern Mexico growing districts last week, causing flooding in many fields and power outages at various packing sheds, further hindering supplies
  • Expect tight supplies and extremely elevated markets for the next four to six weeks at minimum

Please contact your Markon customer service representative for more information.

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