Markets flat

Markets for many crops are generally flat after rising spectacularly in the early part of the season when rains severely limited early season supplies of strawberries, lettuce, and other vegetables, then dropping as product deluged the market. By mid-July supplies and prices had flattened.

After enduring supply interruptions in June, cole crops appear to be recovering from the effects of spring rains and progressing normally, with few major pest or disease problems, sources say.

The USDA forecast summer Broccoli acreage to be about 3 percent higher in California on an estimated 33,500 planted acres. Demand for broccoli remained relatively light in mid-July, with prices steady, ranging from $8 to $10 a box for crown-cut 20-pound cartons.

Cauliflower, meanwhile, was stuck at about $5 to $7 a box for most sizes, amid moderate demand. Summer cauliflower acreage is estimated at 7,600 acres — similar to last year.

Lettuce markets remain soft as a wave of supply continues to hit markets. Summer head lettuce acreage out of the Salinas Valley is estimated at 43,800, which, if realized, would be a 7-percent reduction from 2005. Prices are still hovering at a low $5 to $6, however. Romaine prices bounced back slightly, to $5.50 to $8.50 by mid-July, with demand picking up. Spinach markets moved up, with a wide range in prices from $6 to $10, on moderate demand.

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