How produce season affects the transportation industry

Crunch Time: How Produce Season Affects the Trucking Industry

on Friday, March 15, 2024 in Company News

As warmer weather approaches in the Midwest and North, much of the southern US is already in the swing of an important time of year for the transportation industry: produce season.

From March to September, farmers throughout the country harvest their fruit and vegetable crops. Even more importantly, farmers need to transport these crops to warehouses and stores throughout the country so they can be bought and eaten. This can cause reallocations of freight capacity throughout the country as transportation companies work to make capacity available to farmers at the right time and in the right place.

How Produce Season Moves Through the US

Produce season doesn’t hit the entire United States at once. Instead, it moves through the country in a wave throughout the spring and summer. Starting in March and April, farmers in warmer southern areas like Texas and Florida begin harvesting early crops like citrus and avocados. By June and July, corn and wheat are ready to be harvested in the Midwest, and the season ends with apple and potato harvests in Washington and Idaho in September.

This seasonal wave from south to north makes produce season a moving target for the transportation industry, especially for the refrigerated vans that are so vital for preserving delicate produce until it can get to customers. Carriers want to make sure they have capacity available when growers need it. This can lead to a rush of capacity into areas where crops are being harvested, sometimes turning routes that are usually backhaul into headhaul.

Produce Season Affects the Entire Transportation Market

This massive demand for freight capacity causes ripples throughout the transportation market. Though vented vans and refrigerated trailers are often most in demand for shipping produce, produce season can impact other modes of transportation as well.

At other times of year, carriers will often use refrigerated or vented vans to haul dry van loads. But when these trailers are needed for produce, those dry van loads have to go in other types of trailers, tightening up the entire freight market during the spring and summer months.

Produce season also overlaps with the yearly peak in the flatbed market due to increased demand for bulky lawn and garden supplies, building materials, and construction equipment. This can make it difficult for shippers of all types to find the capacity they need during this time of year, especially if they haven’t planned ahead with their carriers.

Count on TMC Logistics During Produce Season

Even if your business doesn’t involve harvesting fruits and vegetables, you can still feel the effects of produce season. Turn to TMC Logistics for help finding the capacity you need during this busy time of the year. 

We’ve built year-round relationships with our network of trusted carriers, allowing us to find the right logistics solutions for our customers in every season.  Whether you’re looking for refrigerated vans, dry vans, LTL solutions, or intermodal transport, our experienced logistics professionals will work with you to find the right transportation solution for your business, any time of year.