Markets for many California vegetables remained stuck in neutral at the beginning of spring.

Salinas, Calif.-based Coastline Produce is hopeful a transition from the desert to Huron will increase demand for its vegetable crops, said Mark McBride, sales manager.

“We’re seeing a little glimmer of hope,” McBride said. “We’ve had a little more inquiry. Whenever there’s a change in areas, there’s hope for change (in markets) around the corner.”

The uncertainty that accompanies shifts in harvest typically benefits shippers, McBride said. And the time of year doesn’t hurt, either.

“Coming into spring, it’s historically one of the best movement times,” he said. “It doesn’t guarantee a good market, but you have to have movement first before you can think of getting the price up.”

On March 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $5 for carton 24s of iceberg from California, down from $8-8.35 last year at the same time.

Michael Boggiatto, president and general manager of Salinas-based romaine specialist Boggiatto Produce, is less optimistic heading into April.

“I don’t see a  big problem with gaps in the transition, and I don’t see a lot of change in the market,” Boggiatto said. “It’s been a tough deal. Last year was so good, some people went out and planted too much this year. It’s a typical thing in this industry.”

Overproduction isn’t the only culprit, however, Boggiatto said.

“For whatever reason, demand just hasn’t been as strong,” he said.

On March 20, the USDA reported prices of $5-5.25 for carton 24s of romaine from California, down from $8.35-9.75 last year at the same time.

Broccoli markets have been marred by big fluctuations this season, Boggiatto said. And frost damage has diminished demand for artichokes.

Cartons of bunched 24s of broccoli from California were $10.50-12.50, up from $7.35-8.05 last year at the same time.

Cartons of thorned artichokes (12s) from California and Mexico were $12.45-24.75, up from $12.45-16.97 last year at the same time.

Some growers were expected to begin harvesting lettuce in Huron the week of March 19, with the majority to start the following week.

McBride anticipated a slight drop in volumes during the transition and little overlap between the desert and Huron.

The transition of the broccoli and cauliflower deals from the desert to Salinas was in full swing the week of March 19, with very little desert broccoli and cauliflower expected by the last week in March, McBride said.

A very mild, dry winter promised good quality on vegetables shipping out of Huron and Salinas in the first weeks of spring, McBride said.