Sweet corn and watermelon volumes could be down, but supplies of other Labor Day favorites will likely be ample this year, grower-shippers say.
Sweet corn supplies for the holiday will likely be lighter than expected for Hurley, N.Y.-based Gill Corn Farms Inc., thanks to volumes coming on early this summer, said Tim Richards, salesman.
Volumes will likely be lower than during a typical non-holiday week for that time of year, he said.
“There’s going to be a big reduction in supplies for Labor Day,” Richards said. “We’re a little concerned about it.”
That said, Gill will be able to meet orders, and quality should be very good, Richards said.
If holiday demand for sweet corn is strong, it could strengthen sluggish early August markets, Richards said.
On Aug. 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $7.50-8.50 for cartons of white and yellow corn from New York, down from $12-12.35 last year at the same time.
New-crop California granny smiths will likely be a hot Labor Day item for Reedley, Calif.-based Pacific Trellis Fruit, said Earl McMenamin, salesman.
“Grannys should be a great promotable item,” McMenamin said Aug. 4. “It’s new crop, and every-body’s looking for fresh.”
Pacific Trellis would likely begin shipping granny smiths from Tulare County about Aug. 25, McMenamin said. New-crop pomegranates, slated to begin shipping the first week of September, also could come off in time to take advantage of Labor Day pull, he said.
In addition, a full roster of summer fruit will still be going strong for holiday sales, McMenamin said. In the grape category, Pacific Trellis expects to be moving a lot of thompsons, and abundant supplies of peaches, nectarines and black plums also will be available in promotable quantities, he said.
McMenamin projects continued strong demand for stone fruit heading into Labor Day.
“It was weak for awhile, but it’s rebounded very well,” he said.
On Aug. 3, the USDA reported prices of $13.10-14.10 for two-layer tray packs of yellow-flesh peaches from California, up from $10.10-11.10 last year at the same time.
While some watermelon shippers think supplies could be tight because of heat bringing supplies on early in many regions, Gordon Etheridge, president of Etheridge Produce LLC, Raleigh, N.C., thinks volumes will likely increase for the holiday.
“It’s a little short now, but by mid-August it should pick up,” Etheridge said Aug. 4. “There should be promotable supplies.”
A mostly dry growing season should mean excellent flavor and overall quality for product slated for Labor Day, Etheridge said.
And timely rains late in the season will likely help guarantee normal yields, he said.
On Aug. 3, the USDA reported prices of $15-16 per cwt. on 24-inch bins of red flesh seedless watermelons 36s from North Carolina, up from $13-14 last year at the same time.