During the first seven months of this year, farm prices for fresh-market vegetables averaged 14 percent above a year earlier, according to the latest USDA Vegetables and Melons Outlook.

After declining 4 percent from a year earlier this past spring, farm prices were expected to average at or below a year earlier this summer, with weather-delayed crops coming to harvest and crowding the market through August.

During January through July, preliminary data indicated that shipments of fresh-market vegetables – excluding potatoes and melons – from domestic sources were up 3 percent from a year earlier. Import shipments during this time were lower due to the winter freeze in Mexico. Most of the gain in domestic movement occurred prior to May, with volume lower each month May through July.

According to USDA, the May-July decline likely reflected planting gaps and reduced yields caused by the cool, wet spring in California, drought in Georgia, and periods of extreme heat and flooding in the Midwest and East.

Shipments from domestic sources, which account for the majority of volume during summer months, were 7 percent below a year earlier in July but were expected to increase in August.

Area for harvest of 11 selected fresh-market summer vegetables (excluding melons, onions, and potatoes) was forecast to rise about 1 percent for this past summer to 269,300 acres. This compares with a 2 percent increase last summer and steady area this past spring.

Only four of the 11 surveyed crops registered increased acreage, with most of the increase coming from a 17 percent advance in carrots and a 6 percent gain in head lettuce.

Fresh-market carrot supplies (largely from California) had been chronically short since the severe February freeze with the surge in summer area likely reflecting a need to normalize supplies after several months of sustained high prices.

A 9 percent reduction in summer area was noted for snap beans with marginal declines for four other crops, including tomatoes (down 1 percent).

California, accounting for 48 percent of this year’s summer-season vegetable area (up from 46 percent a year earlier), increased its acreage 4 percent.

New York, the second-leading summer-season producer with 16 percent of fresh-market vegetable acreage, was expected to harvest 1 percent less area than a year ago, largely because of small reductions in snap bean and sweet corn area.

New York is the leading source for fresh-market sweet corn, cabbage and snap beans in the summer. Michigan, the third leading summer fresh vegetable state in terms of area, expects to harvest 19,500 acres this summer—the same as a year earlier.