(Nov. 21) Some winter holiday staples will be available in abundant supplies this year, but others will not, grower-shippers said.

CRANBERRIES

Count fresh cranberries among the “nots,” said David Farrimond, general manager of the Cranberry Marketing Committee, Wareham, Mass.

Grocery stores could be out of fresh cranberries as early as Dec. 1, Farrimond said, meaning buyers should hustle now to find remaining product for sale.

The good news is, color is excellent and quality should be very good, Farrimond said. But exceptionally dry weather, particularly in Massachusetts, kept berries small, contributing to the low volume this season, he said.

Fresh cranberry shipments should be about 5% to 8% lower than the 320,000 barrels estimated at the beginning of the season, Farrimond said.

On Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $32 for cartons 24s of 12-ounce film bags of the howe variety from Massachusetts, up from $28 last year at the same time.

SWEET POTATOES

Faring considerably better this holiday season will be sweet potatoes, said Jimmy Burch, partner in Burch Farms Inc., Faison, N.C.

“We have plenty of supplies, and if Christmas is anything like Thanksgiving, it should be wonderful,” he said. “People are just eating more and more sweet potatoes.”

Burch expects holiday volumes to be up from last year, even though spuds are sizing smaller than normal. Very few jumbos will be available this Christmas, he said.

Quality, however, is outstanding, Burch said, thanks to limited rainfall.

On Nov. 20, the USDA reported prices of $15-16 for 40-pound cartons of cured U.S. No. 1 sweet potatoes from North Carolina, up from $14-15 last year at the same time.

CLEMENTINES

Promotable volumes of high-quality California clementines should be available for winter holiday pull, said Fred Berry, marketing director for Mulholland Citrus, Orange Cove, Calif.

A cold winter in 2006-2007 meant plenty of chilling hours for fruit, Berry said. Sizing also was good, he said, with growers selling primarily 28s and 24s, he said.

On Nov. 20 , the USDA reported prices of $4.25-4.50 for five-pound containers of size 18-24 clementines from Spain, comparable to last year at the same time.

Fewer cranberries, more sweet potatoes this winter
While many holiday produce favorites should be available in promotable volumes this winter, some commodities, such as fresh cranberries, could be absent from retail shelves by early December.