Heavy rain expected to delay Michigan turnip season

The northern US turnip season is now just weeks away from starting. Michigan will be the center of activity as the season transitions north from California, which is on the cusp of the end of its season. Growers are predicting a later than usual start in Michigan this year, thanks to heavy rain in April, as well as significant follow-up rain from Storm Alberto which passed through two weeks ago. 

"Michigan is the center of the summer turnip crop in the US and it's due to begin in about two to three weeks," said Chuck Fields of Ed Fields and Sons. "However, this year the season is expected to be slightly delayed because of heavy rain that fell back in April. The region was in the midst of the planting season when it received five to six inches of rain. This was followed up by significant rainfall from Storm Alberto which passed up into the Great Lakes region after hitting Florida and Alabama. The southern half of Michigan has been more affected than the northern half."

Fields explained that turnips are not the only crop that has been delayed. "The rain has wreaked havoc with the radish crop in Michigan so far, with a delayed start and quality issues, but turnips are not expected to be hit as hard," he said.

Turnip quality leads to sales growth, but market still poor
Despite causing a delay, the rain is not expected to affect the quality of the upcoming turnip crop. Instead, quality is in fact anticipated to be very good, thanks to the cooler spring temperatures. According to suppliers, it is this quality that has revived the turnip market from a deep slump. Overall movement still remains weak however, and prices are low.

"We are not expecting any quality issues from the rain," Fields explained. "Quality should actually be very good because of cold temperatures during April. Quality out of both California and Michigan has been very high this past year which has revived the turnip market somewhat. With California about to end their season, there is a lot of product around and the market remains poor, with weak demand into summer and low pricing. The Michigan crop is expected to yield good numbers also, and despite an otherwise excellent season coming up, we don't expect prices to rise over the summer."

Freight causing issues again
When freight rates climbed steeply at the start of the year, growers endured very high transport costs as well as a shortage of trucks. This was largely blamed on the introduction of E-Logs in trucks, which by most accounts greatly hindered the trucking companies' ability to operate efficiently, leading some to leave the industry. This situation settled down over the past few months, but it has now risen again mainly because the E-log legislation is now coming into full effect.

Fields expects this will have an impact over the summer season. "Freight rates have climbed once again and it has also come at a time of higher fuel prices," he observed. "So while delivered rates are high, the actual market rates for turnips remains quite low and growers are bearing the cost. For example, local prices around the California area are likely now between $6.50 and $7.00, but we are not seeing that on the delivered end. The issue around E-logs has surfaced again because the regulation is now coming into full effect. A number of trucking companies, especially smaller ones, have given up and left the industry."

For more information:
Chuck Fields
Ed Fields and Sons
Tel: +1 (763) 421-5283

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