2012 Crops and Markets News

12/28/2012 10:36:00 AM
Dan Galbraith

Fresh produce crop and market news from 2012:

JANUARY

Chinese New Year’s early arrival this year has limited opportunities for some produce shippers, but brands like Frieda’s and Melissa’s will have had retail marketing efforts in place for weeks ... Avocado shippers look forward to strong demand for highly promotable supplies of high-quality fruit heading into the Super Bowl ... Initial reports show the season’s first freeze damaged Florida’s bell peppers, squash and green beans ... The closely watched August apple crop estimate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture might not be issued this year. Budget cutbacks led to the decision to cut the report ... Low temperatures in California citrus growing regions in mid-January damaged mandarins but spared oranges ...

FEBRUARY

Low tomato prices pitted Florida and Mexico supplies against one another in a blame game ... A big, late Treasure Valley storage onion crop, combined with surging volumes from Mexico, has sent prices spiraling down ... Lingering banana production disruptions from hurricanes in 2011 have been complicated by ongoing cold weather and January flooding in growing regions, causing some suppliers to caution U.S. retailers to stay on top of ordering ... The melon category suffered a predictable decline in retail sales and volume in 2011 because of a listeria outbreak in cantaloupes, while berries again ranked as a star performer in fresh produce departments ... As freeze damage to Florida and George blueberry crops becomes clearer, retailers should expect tight supplies into late spring ...

MARCH

Shippers of California strawberries and asparagus expect markets to strengthen in the runup to Easter ... The organic produce community is praising the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco for obtaining a guilty plea from the ex-president of California Liquid Fertilizer, who admitted he sold nonorganic fertilizer to hundreds of growers ... The California Department of Food and Agriculture plans to pull out all the stops in the fight against the citrus greening if the disease is found in the state, including mandatory spraying and tree removal in commercial groves and the general public’s yards ... The California Avocado Commission works to make Independence Day a new focus for avocado dishes ...

APRIL

Gaps in California strawberry supplies this spring are translating into higher prices ... Both California and Mexico will ship large volumes of high-quality avocados for Cinco de Mayo but very strong demand will tighten supplies and could send prices rising ... Vidalia onion supplies should be tighter than usual, thanks in part to downy mildew disease claiming up to 20% of the crop ... Confirmation of a huanglongbing-diseased tree in a Los Angeles County backyard has failed to register much more than raised eyebrows from the California citrus industry. It was only “when,” not “if” the state would get citrus greening, growers say ... An April 11 hailstorm dented California stone fruit production ... Foodservice produce distributors expect another strong Mother’s Day, with demand for strawberries and asparagus spiking for restaurants’ busiest day of the year ... Rocky Ford, Colo., cantaloupe acreage plummets following the 2011 listeria outbreak, but growers say they’re embracing the challenges ... Initial estimates on damage from the California hailstorm indicate heavy losses on some stone fruit while other crops are OK ...

MAY

Michigan apple losses reach beyond 50% following a spring freeze ... Meanwhile, Washington apple growers get lucky with a big apple crop unofficially weighing in at about 120 million cartons, up about 8% from the previous all-time record crop ... Discussions about an organic checkoff reached the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry when a Pennsylvania Democrat sponsored a related amendment in the farm bill ...

JUNE

July Fourth may see tight supplies of corn and blueberries ... South African citrus producers are excited about expanding opportunities in U.S. markets ... Florida mulls proposal to beef up its promotions budget for fresh oranges nearly tenfold ... Federal officials set a goal to increase certified organic operations in the U.S. by 20% by the end of 2015 ... A produce-friendly farm bill passes out of the Senate by a wide margin ... A bipartisan organic food proposal would give organic enforcement some teeth ... Citing unfair trade practices, the Florida Tomato Exchange has asked the U.S. government to end its tomato suspension agreement with Mexico ...

JULY

Mexican avocado exports to the U.S. set another record in 2011-12, shattering the previous record by 15% ... A short, lower-quality Chinese garlic crop should open the door for California producers, who report good yields and exceptional quality ... Mexico fires back in the tomato war with Florida, threatening higher prices ... Hail dents Washington’s apple volumes ...

AUGUST

Labor Day may not see enough corn and watermelons, sources say ... Michigan’s apple crop is down 85% from 2011 while New York’s plummets 52% ... Mexico greenhouse producers debate tomato suspension agreement ... Conventional produce supporters and researchers question if organic is better for consumers ... Organic produce and fresh fruit post gains in retail sales ...

SEPTEMBER

The tomato suspension agreement between Mexican tomato growers and the U.S. appears to be doomed, potentially opening new trade frictions ... More potatoes may start crossing the U.S. border to Mexico... China trade moves worry Washington apple leaders ...

OCTOBER

Greenhouse growers enter U.S.-Mexico tomato dispute ... Supplies of some Thanksgiving produce favorites could be light this year ... Mexican growers propose higher tomato floor prices ... Hurricane Sandy doesn’t widely disrupt crop production but does hamper produce distribution throughout the Northeast ...

NOVEMBER

Despite regional losses, apple holdings increase 4% overall, thanks in large part to a gigantic Washington crop ... Sources report there should be ample cranberries and potatoes for Christmas but clementines may be in short supply ... California ponders a quarantine after a new citrus psyllid find ... Florida starts strawberry harvest a week early ...

DECEMBER

California is restricting citrus fruit and plants in Tulare County after two recent Asian citrus psyllid detections.



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