Greetings to all of our customer partners:
Welcome to our August crop report!
Despite unusual stops and starts, the weather has overall been favorable in the Pacific Northwest and California’s San Joaquin Valley, resulting in a good-sized crop so far this season. If patterns continue, and California can maintain warm weather through October, all crops will be on the positive side over last season and in good supply.
The 2023 tomato harvest began about 3 weeks late this year (mid-July) in our southern Kern County growing region, approximately 20 miles south of Bakersfield, CA. Early yields were mixed due to the cooler start to the season & very wet transplant period. But by the time we moved into the second and third weeks of production, we began to see higher yields and vibrant reds; the color has been excellent!
As our harvest has moved north into Fresno County the quality has remained very good and the yields have increased. As of now, we have seen little disease or pest pressure in our tomato fields and we’re hoping this trend continues throughout the season. We are seeing the effects of the abundant rainfall that our growing regions received this past winter/spring and are happy to report the tomato fields look healthier than they’ve looked for several years.
Regarding Hurricane Hillary, as of today, aside from some intermittent rain the last few days and a few muddy slowdowns in the south, the weather was mostly south and east of our primary tomato region.
The chart to the right is provided courtesy of the CTGA and you’ll note the 72% increase in price per ton since 2020.
If you have not booked or contracted your needs with us, please do so promptly so we can make sure we get you packed! For those of you who opt not to contract, product is available on a first come, first served basis.
Pacific Northwest Fruit
The Northwest cherry crop started and should finish strong this year. Consistent temps in the 80s during the crucial growth period, with little moisture during harvest will create a significant “bounce back” crop from 2022 (frost wiped out much of the 2022 cherry orchard crops).
The 2022 pack yielded about 13.3MM boxes, and though the final numbers are not in yet, 2023 should finish above 20MM boxes this season.
The most significant challenge this year was a compressed harvest. Nearly twice the normal capacity was ripe at the same time while harvesting. But overall, a great crop!
The quality and size of our 2023 Hood River, Salem and Medford, OR Bartlett pears look to be very favorable this year! After generous rain this winter, Medford, OR finally saw their reservoirs full again (see Emigrant Lake photo comparison below).
Hood River and Salem have good crop volume and great size heading into harvest, which started the week of August 14th in Salem. Overall, we see a strong Northwest pear crop, surpassing 2022 by at least 10-15%.
“Final bloom drop” happened in the Salem, OR plum orchards in July indicating we’ll likely have an above average crop volume for our delicious and nutritious Italian Plums in 2023.
Fruit quality, overall, looks great and the plums are starting to change color. We anticipate a harvest of 22-2400 tons, about a 30% increase over 2022 and are scheduled to start harvest mid to late September. Inventories look strong, place your bookings now for 24/300 Retail size or 6/10 Foodservice/Healthcare product.
Bandon, OR has had ideal growing conditions this season and is back on track to produce an average crop volume for 2023. Like most other commodities in the PNW, we are tracking about 10 days behind standard harvest dates (we are currently scheduled for some early variety-harvest the last week of September).
The bloom was heavy in June and the weather has cooperated nicely to produce a very good berry count per acre. Now, time will only tell if the berries size up.
Our Northwest berries are prized by nutraceutical companies for their polyphenols, phenolic acids and unusually high values of PAC (Proanthocyanidins). We provide retail and foodservice cannery products in both conventional and organic varieties. Additionally, we process for industrial juice concentrates, essences and pomace.
Pacific Northwest Berries
All other PNW berries have looked great this year. With lower temperatures, we’ve been able to retain both good quality and size.
Blackberry, Strawberry, Raspberry and Marionberry have already finished harvest and delivered a strong volume. At this stage, we’ll be wrapping up the remainder of the late season blueberries this month.
We’ve had some intermittent heat above 100F, but fortunately most of our crop quality and quantity has been favorable.
As you can see below, most costs have yet to see any real reduction from earlier inflationary increases. Utilities, warehousing, transportation, fiber, sweeteners, tinplate and particularly spices and olive oil remain at their highest levels in a decade.
Poor weather and drought have pushed the largest olive oil producing country, Spain, to record pricing levels not seen since 1996.
As always, we remain enthusiastic about the year ahead and are thankful for the favorable weather & for all of our Northwest and California growers. With their hard work and expertise, we continue to do our part to process some of the finest, fresh fruit and tomatoes this country has to offer. This year will be another year for us to sharpen our skills, increase efficiencies and to ensure we’re delivering the NJFC quality you depend on for your customers and families.
Thanks again for your partnership and we send our best to you in the year ahead!
The Neil Jones Food Family