Not unexpectedly, but still disappointing, the rush to commence a harvest has led to a rush to red ink in several circles. Offers on small fruit, defined as 138s, started at $10. Bin rates went up to attract early harvesting when labor is in abundant supply. The rise in harvesting rates along with a reduction in price per carton is an immediate rush to red ink. From our perspective, industry members need to take a step back, breathe deeply, and move onto a pathway that creates positive cash flow for all segments of the industry.
CCM has been working closely with USDA to target small fruit for the purchase program with announcements expected before Thanksgiving for deliveries prior to Christmas. Perceived inventory buildup need not be happening and if it is then perhaps size picking should be initiated. Traditionally, weekly movement on smaller fruit is about 8% of total tonnage. For the early harvest that percentage could well increase. Perhaps some bypassing is in order to allow for more growth in some blocks. If nothing else some realization between grower and shipper needs to take place. The rush to red should never be a priority!