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Squash production in US and Canada affected by rain

Sporadic but heavy rain periods have affected squash production in the northeast regions of North America. A large area of the country is currently growing the yellow and zucchini squash but most regions have not escaped the rain. Production and quality have been most affected, although the situation has improved in the past week.

"Summer squash is growing as far south as South Carolina all the way through to Michigan and into Canada," said Brad Peterson of Flavor 1st Growers and Packers. "The northern crops will start to slow down by mid to end of September while South Carolina will go until the first frost, which is usually in October. There was a lot of rain at the start of the season which slowed production. Production then improved but the rain returned a few weeks ago, causing issues with quality. However it seems to have eased again now."

Peterson noted that despite the rain causing production delays and quality issues, it has not meant a reduction in volume. "The crop this year is close to the average or slightly above," he said. "There is plenty of squash around."

August 'bump' in market not materializing
With the market in plentiful supply, prices are relatively low. This is not a surprise given the number of regions in production now. However, growers report that in August, the market is typically given a small boost as weather factors tend to hit the crop at this time of year. But this year no such boost has been seen as yet. 

"The market has been on the cheaper side and has been down since the start of the season," Peterson explained. "Typically August sees a better market as heat and other weather factors takes its toll on the crop but we haven't seen that this year. Prices are currently around $10 FOB when normally there is a week or two during the month where prices climb to $14 - $16 but we have not approached those numbers yet."

Bag programs becoming more common
The smaller sized bagged products are becoming more common, according to producers. Retailers are showing a preference to these at the expense of bulk bins. "There has been a push from several chains to go into the bag programs," Peterson observed. "Typically the sizes are in the 1lb and 2lb range. There is a lot of it going on and it's working out well for the growers."

Currently, the majority of bagging is done in packing sheds but it's something growers think will be a part of their cycle in a matter of a few years. It will all depend on whether the conditions are appropriate for this move. "Most of the bagging is done in the sheds but it might transition to the growers eventually," Peterson continued. "The cost of bags and labor concerns are important factors in determining if this scenario will eventuate."

For more information:
Brad Peterson 
Flavor 1st Growers and Packers
Tel: +1 (828) 890-3630

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