What is in this article?:
- Fall vegetable acreage declines as prices move lower
- Melon season drawing to close
- Area for harvest of the major fresh-market fall vegetables — excluding melons, onions and potatoes — was forecast to decline 1 percent to 150,160 acres, according to USDA’s latest Vegetables and Melons Outlook report.
- California growers are expected to harvest about two-thirds of the fall fresh-market vegetable area.
- Total acreage is expected to rise about 2 percent in California and remain steady in Florida — the top-producing states.
Melon season drawing to close
With the summer melon season drawing to a close in California’s Central Valley, the bulk of the fall melon crop will be harvested from the desert regions of California and Arizona. Weather in the southern desert areas of California and Arizona has been relatively favorable and melon yield and quality is expected to be at least average this fall.
Arizona is the top melon producer during the fall, harvesting nearly two-thirds of the melon area. Despite shipment volume averaging above that of a year earlier, summer wholesale prices for melons averaged 4 percent above a year ago.
Summer cantaloupe supplies were slow to build (July shipments were down 16 percent from a year earlier) because of cooler than normal temperatures across most of the San Joaquin Valley, broken by a warm spell in September.
Crop growth in June and July was particularly slow as unusually cool weather led to a 16 percent decline in shipments during July.
By August and September, cantaloupe volume was up about 20 percent from a year earlier, with prices averaging 16 percent lower. In mid-October shipping-point prices for cantaloupe (down 40 percent) and honeydew (down 20 percent) were each running well below the highs of a year earlier.
The volume of fresh-vegetable exports (excluding potatoes and melons) increased 3 percent from a year earlier during the first eight months of (January-August) 2010. Given higher prices, the value of those exports rose 11 percent to $1.3 billion, with the value of exports to each of the top five markets increasing:
• Canada was up 8 percent from a year earlier led by head lettuce and bulb onions.
• Mexico was up 34 percent led by tomatoes and bulb onions.
• Japan, up 38 percent led by broccoli and asparagus.
• Taiwan, up 21 percent led by broccoli and head lettuce.
• United Kingdom, up 20 percent led by sweet potatoes and sweet corn.
Together, Canada and Japan accounted for 84 percent of U.S. fresh-market vegetable export volume during the first eight months of 2010 — an increase in concentration among the top two markets from 77 percent a decade earlier.
The Mexican retaliatory tariff (in the cross-border trucking dispute) affecting crops such as onions (10 percent tariff applied to fresh onions, 20 percent on peeled onions) has reportedly held volume below what it might have been.
So far in 2010, with the notable exception of tomatoes and leaf lettuce (which were beset by weather-related production issues), export volume is higher for most commodities, including bulb onions, head lettuce, broccoli, and celery.