(Nov. 1) Growers expect normal volume as the celery season is slated to begin in California’s Ventura County.
Alan Laird, deputy commissioner for the Ventura County Agricultural Commission, said the celery season runs from mid-November through mid-July.
Sammy Duda, vice president and general manager of Western operations for Salinas, Calif.-based Duda California/Gene Jackson Farms Inc., said that its harvesting season will begin around Nov. 1.
He said the crops look healthy.
David Cook, sales manager for Deardorff-Jackson Co., Oxnard, is on a schedule similar to Duda California’s. He said supplies and quality are good in Oxnard, and there is a good sense of optimism in the market.
Volume is expected to pick up in the Ventura County celery market between December and February. The current markets are active and demand is expected to be good.
“The market lately has been stable. If we can sustain these prices into the first part of November, then the holiday ads will help maintain higher prices,“ said Russ Widerburg, sales manager at Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard.
Boskovich’s volume should be about the same as last year. From its nearly 300 acres, the company brings in about 3,000 shipping cartons per day. Because they plant more at the beginning of the season, Widerburg said volume is always heavier at the first part of the harvest.
Celery prices in late October, based on the Los Angeles market, were around $13-14 for a 2-dozen carton, according to Laird, a couple dollars higher than last year in late October.
Cook said volume is down, but that is because hot weather after Labor Day has caused smaller sizes. He said there is a lot of size 36 but hardly any size 24 now. He said that yields have been low, and the market will be average until the Eastern suppliers, particularly Michigan, finish. He said prices are around $12 for 24s and 30s.
Duda said prices have been erratic over the past year, and he attributes this to better supply, although he did say that demand has been somewhat lackluster.
Mark Goss, general manager of Cal-Cel Marketing Inc., Oxnard, said the recent rain pushed the growing season along. He said that although his firm received about two inches of rain, there were no losses or damage to the crops caused by the storms.
Duda said typically the biggest problem for celery in the fall comes from the Santa Ana winds, which produce offshore breezes, causing hot, windy conditions. He said that such a hot, dry wind can cause damage to celery because it affects transpiration. He noted, however, that there has not been much damage this year from Santa Ana winds.
Widerburg said that the recent rain helped their crops, as did the warmer nights.
Boskovich will have its celery in East Coast stores before Thanksgiving, said Widerburg, between Nov. 10 and Nov. 22.
“Thanksgiving is the Christmas of celery,” said Duda, who also said that one notable trend in the market seems to be toward buying celery hearts. He said it seems to be the fast-growing commodity in the celery market, possibly because celery heart packaging is smaller than that of stalk celery.
VEGETABLES AND FRUIT
Other produce being harvested in Ventura County includes onions, lettuce, bell peppers and tomatoes, and crops including celery hearts, romaine lettuce and cabbage are being shipped.
Some berries are in production right now, many of which are exported to Japan. Strawberry prices are about $14-16 a flat, according to Laird.
Laird noted that he has seen more pumpkin patches and roadside stands in the county recently.