Broccoli prices dropped in late August, even as supplies also declined, grower-shippers said.

High summer prices and competition at retail from other vegetables could be responsible for lower demand for broccoli, said Brent Scattini, vice president of sales for Santa Maria, Calif.-based Gold Coast Packing Inc.

“It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what it is, but prices have slipped a bit,” he said.

Salinas, Calif.-based Coastline Produce will harvest broccoli mainly from the Salinas Valley until the deal shifts south, likely in November, said Ben Wilson, the company’s broccoli commodity manager.

In late August conditions were of the “perfect storm” variety to keep markets down, Wilson said.

The three-day holiday weekend put a dent in movement as it does every year. And very nice growing weather pushed production up.

“It’s a typical oversupply,” Wilson said.

On Aug. 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $10.35-11.61 for cartons of bunched 14s from Salinas, up from $6.45-7 last year at the same time.

What has kept markets from tanking too much is strong export demand for product from Coastline and other shippers, Wilson said.

But that’s only been the case with high-quality broccoli. Others haven’t been as lucky.

“There’s been a little hollow core” and other quality issues related to the rapid growth of plants in recent weeks, which has slowed movement for some shippers, Wilson said.

“Some guys are getting stacked up and having to cut deals.”

Scattini also reported strong export demand, thanks to excellent quality and good sizing in Santa Maria.

What happens in the first half of September will depend largely on how quickly homegrown deals in the East wind down, Wilson said.

On California’s end, volumes will likely start to taper in September.

“The next two or three weeks should be more manageable,” assuming that homegrown volumes also start to decline.

If they don’t, though, Wilson said, “it could still be a rough go.”

Supplies should be light until production switches to the desert, likely around Thanksgiving, Scattini said.