Aided by more rain and mountain snow pack in California, U.S. vegetable shipments from January through August were up 2% compared with the same period a year ago.
The Oct. 27 Vegetables Outlook report said the increase was driven by bigger volumes of onions, carrots, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers and tomatoes. California’s improved water supply relieved prolonged drought conditions and boosted output, according to the report.
The price index for all vegetables during the first six months of 2017 was up 16% compared with year-ago levels, with average prices for celery up 149%, broccoli up 67% and head lettuce 66% higher.
On the other hand, The USDA said April-June farm prices were lower for onions (down 34%), carrots (off 26%) and asparagus (down 12%).
Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas Aug. 25, did not cause significant harm to Texas vegetable output, according to the report.
On the other hand, Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in Florida Sept. 10, caused losses estimated at $2.5 billion to the state’s agricultural output — mostly to citrus.
While citrus crops were the hardest hit, the report said unplanted vegetable fields sustained damage due to loss of row covers, drip tape and soil treatments that had been applied in preparation for planting.
“Fields that remained underwater for several days or longer could not be planted, delaying the production of vegetables that would typically be available in retail locations near Thanksgiving,” the report said. “The availability of tomato and other seedlings is also expected to be reduced due to the destruction of greenhouses,” the report said.
U.S. fresh market vegetable imports from January through August 2017 were unchanged from a year earlier, according to the report.
Fresh-market tomatoes, which accounted for 27% of total imports, were off 5%.
Other changes in vegetable imports from January through August, compared with a year ago:
- Squash, down 3%:
- Cucumbers, down 1%;
- Chili peppers, down 2%;
- Lettuce, up 20%;
The report said U.S. fresh vegetable exports from January through August were off 4%.