Supply gaps into May possible as rain slows broccoli, cauliflower

03/23/2011 03:15:03 PM
Andy Nelson

For updated March 24 coverage on the heavy rains in California and the effects on strawberry, broccoli and cauliflower crops, see Commodities hit by heavy California rains.

Bad weather was throwing a wrench in broccoli and cauliflower markets as the Yuma, Ariz., deals wound down and the Salinas, Calif., deals picked up steam.

Excessive rains and extremes of temperature will likely produce a series of supply gaps that will likely last into May, said Kevin Jordan, director of sales and marketing for Santa Maria-based Adam Bros. Produce Sales Inc.

Those gaps should translate into strong markets, Jordan said.

“There should be good pricing the next four to six to eight weeks,” he said March 22. “April should be interesting.”

As of March 22, rains in the Salinas Valley had not affected the quality or volumes of broccoli shipped by Salinas-based The Nunes Co., which started its Salinas deal the week of March 14, said Doug Classen, the company’s sales manager.

“At this point, the crop in Salinas is looking nice,” he said.

It remained to be seen, he said, what effects additional rains the week of March 21 might have.

Classen reported a smooth transition from Nunes’ Yuma, Ariz., deal, which wound down the week of March 21, to the company’s Salinas deal.

Pricing was lower than Nunes would like the week of March 21, Classen said, with broccoli fetching $8 on bunches and $10-11 on crowns and cauliflower $10-12.

“It’s been a fair market at best,” he said. “We’re hoping for a better one than we have now.”

On March 22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $7-7.55 for cartons of broccoli bunched 14s from California, down from $12-12.55 last year at the same time.

Cartons of film-wrapped cauliflower 12s from California were $10.35-11.50, down from $12.47-13.35.

Cauliflower fields in Salinas were too muddy for crews to get in the first half of the week of March 21, said Wyatt Maker, salesman for Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms.

“I haven’t seen it like this in years,” Maker said. He estimated that volumes out of Salinas were down 35% because of the rains.

The weekend of March 19-20, the Santa Maria region of California where Adam Bros. sources its broccoli and cauliflower received 3 ½ inches of rain, Jordan said. Other California growing regions received as much as 10 inches.

Broccoli fields in Salinas received 1 to 1 ½ inches, Classen said.

More rain was forecast for later in the week of March 21, Jordan said.

With the exception of some water spot, the quality of broccoli and cauliflower had not been significantly affected by the rain, Jordan said.



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