Understanding Produce Season Freight | DTS

produce season freight
Understanding Produce Season Freight | DTS

Understanding produce season freight (plus tips for lower rates)

Navigating produce season freight rates can be frustrating for farmers, businesses dealing in perishable goods, and even companies that don’t deal in fresh produce. Demand for shipping services changes during this season, and prices change with it. However, if you prepare properly, you can find ways to mitigate the cost increases. 

In this post, we’ll explore what produce season in truckload logistics is, when it takes place, and some tips to minimize produce season freight rates. 

What is produce season in the freight/truckload shipping market?

During the produce season, freight transportation picks up again after slowing down in January. That makes it a crucial time for the freight/truckload market. 

The produce season falls between the “quiet season” (January - March) and the “peak season” (August - end of October). 

Learn more about shipping seasons in the US. 

During produce season, shipping activity increases due to the amount of fresh produce ready to collect and distribute. This includes newly harvested vegetables, fruits, and grains.

More businesses require freight shipping to transport produce far and wide, creating welcome opportunities for shipping companies with trucks ready to roll. Refrigerated trucks and vented vans are in particularly high demand to keep freshly harvested goods fresh during transportation. 

It’s not just the demand for trucks that increases during produce season — freight rates also increase. 

When is the produce season?

Produce season varies from state to state, depending on their growing seasons and their most common crops. But it generally starts at the earliest in southern states (where temperatures are highest) and continues north through the summer months. Knowing when major produce seasons are is vital to preparing for the increase in produce season freight pricing. 

Here’s when five states have their peak produce season:

  • Arizona: Produce season in Arizona tends to run from May to July. The state’s predominant crop is lettuce. 
  • California: California’s produce season starts in May and lasts until August. Grapes are the main crop, though strawberries and some nuts are also common. 
  • Idaho: Produce season in Idaho comes much later than in Arizona and California, running from October to December. Idaho’s most substantial produce is potatoes.
  • Kentucky: Kentucky’s produce season spans July to September, focusing on soybeans. 
  • Michigan: The produce season covers August and September. This period is dominated by corn growth, though apples and soybeans are common, too. 

How does produce season impact FTL freight rates?

Produce season substantially affects full truckload (FTL) freight rates. The spike in shipping fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains from farms to market takes demand for trucks to another level. Availability goes down, and rates go up. 

This spike in demand can cause countrywide disruptions and affect spot rates in and outside of different regions. Even sellers looking to ship non-produce goods will have to deal with higher prices. That’s why preparing for produce season in advance will help your company manage freight costs. 

How can you minimize the impact of produce season on freight rates?

Here are a few tips to help you keep produce season freight rates down:

  • Plan ahead: Determine how you’ll handle the seasonal spike before the spring. Don’t leave it to the last minute. Speak to your carriers about the expected increase in demand and strategize your shipping as early as possible.
  • Consider locations: Think about where you’re based and where you’re shipping to. When do those areas go through their peak produce season? Researching the different produce seasons may help you find workarounds to reduce disruptions and avoid the worst price spikes. 
  • Prioritize your critical shipments over more flexible ones: Don’t try to ship too much when availability is low and prices are high. You may need to reduce your capacity in extreme cases. Focus on shipments that must be delivered within a specific timeframe, and consider de-prioritizing non-critical shipments. 
  • Work with the experts: Get a better deal by working with a freight logistics company with extensive industry knowledge. 

DTS is a shipping logistics company offering freight transportation services tailored to your unique needs. We can create the right solution at competitive rates to make sure your goods get where they need to be. To learn more, contact DTS today

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