This week’s weather impacting the eastern US was evidence that September is indeed right at the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. No sooner had grower-shippers begun to see fields dry out enough to harvest after last month’s Tropical Storm Fred, than Hurricane Ida arrived with landfall near New Orleans. Harvests were curtailed in Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina this week as the remnants of Ida caused rain and wet fields. Further north, rains from Ida caused flash flooding in New York City and other areas recently inundated by Tropical Storm Henri.
The high water and flooding impacted trade on the markets, most notably in NYC, and for shippers seeking to offload product in the markets. The Pacific hurricane season has to date had less direct impact on the western US this year, although several storms have caused damages and loss of life in some areas of Mexico. Wildfires continue to be an issue in several states, affecting growing areas, communities, and wilderness from northern California up to Washington state. The exceptionally long wait times for unloading berths at major ports including Los Angeles and Long Beach are at all-time highs. This impacts all aspects of the market, from product quality, condition and value, to availability of product in the marketplace. A recent report in the media indicated that as many as 48 vessels were said to be anchored awaiting unloading. The delays are largely blamed on insufficient labor at the port and continuing driver and related transportation issues.
Michigan blueberry movement is expected to decrease sharply as the season ends. Trading was moderate at higher prices with quality of fruit variable. Movement of blueberries from Oregon and Washington is expected about the same. Trading was moderate early and fairly active later at higher prices. Shipments are approaching equal amounts of fresh picked and supplies out of controlled atmosphere storage. Late varieties are being harvested including rabbit eyes. Quality remains generally good, but supplies are declining with some light showers being reported in coastal growing areas.
Movement from British Columbia Canada crossing through Northwest Washington is expected about the same with Draper, Liberty, and Elliot varieties being harvested. Trading was moderate early and fairly active later at higher prices. Seasonally cooler temperatures and light showers were reported this week. High freight rates and fruit from competing growing areas continue to hamper sales to both coasts. Peruvian imports arriving through Southern California movement via boat is expected to increase, despite possible delays due to unloading backlogs at the ports.