Commodity Update

Once again Mother Nature affected crop outlooks. Lettuce was hurt the worst, while tomatoes appear to have rebounded.

Tomatoes: While supplies were tight through mid-March, volume continues to build and should be back to normal by mid-April, reports the Florida Tomato Committee.

Mangos: Varieties at their peak in spring and summer include Ataulfo, Francis, Haden and Tommy Atkins, coming in primarily from Mexico, says the National Mango Board.

Strawberries: New strawberry varieties and ideal growing conditions led to record production in 2010, even though acreage was down slightly. Weather permitting, the 2011 crop looks to follow suit, according to the California Strawberry Commission.

Artichokes: In mid-March, all sizes—from small to jumbo—were showing signs of light frost, according to Ocean Mist Farms, but “frost-kissed” product is high in quality and flavor.

Vidalia Onions: Despite a prolonged freeze in January, the crop of Vidalias fared well and sweet, juicy bulbs are expected to be harvested in Georgia during April and May.

Corn: Good volumes of Southern corn are expected for all of April and May, predicts the Fresh SuperSweet Corn Council. Come July, local supplies will start coming in.

Asparagus: The harvest got off to a late start due to continuing rains in California during February. By late March, the harvest was in full swing and ample supply is expected into early June.

Berries: Driscoll’s blueberries ramp up into strong supplies beginning in May and lasting through the summer; raspberries reach peak volume from mid-May through mid-June, with good supply throughout the fall. Driscoll’s blackberries are in good supply through April and May, with excellent availability in the summer months.

Lettuce: Romaine was the most severely damaged from the February freeze, which extended from Arizona to Mexico. Demand still exceeds supply, notes Mann Packing of California. Boggiato Produce, the company behind Garden Hearts romaine hearts, reports that quality and supply are both high. The hearts are unaffected by the cold and the frostbitten outer leaves are discarded.