(Feb. 27, 1:27 p.m.) With volumes of high-quality broccoli and cauliflower expected to remain plentiful when harvest shifts in March from Yuma, Ariz., to Salinas, Calif., markets should stay moderate, grower-shippers predict.

Steinbeck Country Produce Inc., Salinas, expects to wrap up its Yuma deals the third week in March, about a week after its Salinas deals get under way, said Greg Beach, vice president of sales.

“We’ll have a little bit of an overlap — not too bad,” he said. “You plan to have zero overlap, but it’s not an exact science.”

Tanimura & Antle Inc., Salinas, expects to wrap up in Yuma at the end of March and to begin shipping from Salinas the week of March 10, said Drew Barsoom, broccoli and cauliflower program manager.

While cauliflower markets showed some strength toward the end of February, broccoli markets were deflated, Beach said.

Still, for the near future, he was looking on the bright side.

“I’m always optimistic, especially when we have such high-quality stuff,” he said.

Broccoli markets were soft at the end of February, and cauliflower markets had come down after two months of strong demand, Barsoom said. But he said there was a chance markets could firm some during the transition from Yuma to Salinas.

Doug Classen, sales manager for Salinas-based Nunes Co. Inc., said he hoped that was true.

“In general, everything’s a little on the depressed side,” he said. “Volumes are ample, and there’s relatively light demand on both broccoli and cauliflower. We hope to see a change when we transition to Salinas.”

On Feb. 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $5-5.45 for cartons of bunched size-14 broccoli from Arizona, up from $4.25-5.45 last year at the same time.

Cartons of film-wrapped size-12 white cauliflower from Arizona were $7.35-9.56, down from $10.35-12.50 last year at the same time.

Beach reported outstanding quality on the broccoli and cauliflower shipping out of Yuma in late February.

For the first time this year, Steinbeck is packing orange cauliflower, which has been a hit at both retail and foodservice, Beach said.

“It’s been very well received,” he said. “It gives retailers some wonderful merchandising ideas, and chefs are saying it helps jazz up plates.”