Produce shipping season is the busiest time of year in regards to domestic shipping. Shippers should expect to see tightened reefer capacity and higher reefer rates during produce season as temperature-controlled cargo increases across the U.S.

Produce season in the United States typically begins in April and runs through the end of July.  Regional trends do exist, but it is important to know that growing season in each area may not be, and are usually not, the same year over year.

Typically, Southern states feel the pressure first. Southern Texas and Southern California have historically seen volume increases first.  The trend moves north as temperatures rise. Volume was slow to take off in Georgia and Florida last year, but once things took off, volume stayed consistently high during April, May and June.  June was the busiest for both states.

Reefer Load Counts in 2017

McAllen, TX is a strong agriculture market and a distribution point for produce that is brought in from Mexico. While volumes remained high in this area, capacity kept up for the most part. California sees consistently high volume within Imperial Valley before the volume shifts to Central California and the San Joaquin Valley. Moreover, Lakeland, FL and Atlanta, GA have also been hot spots in the past.  Florida had capacity challenges while Georgia saw slightly better load to truck ratios. As the demand rises and capacity dwindles, expect to pay a premium price to secure your load.

If you are a buyer or shipper and planning to book a reefer going to or coming from any of these areas during produce season expect an increase in volume.

In a normal year you can expect a 30% increase in volume nationwide diminishing capacity even further.  Most carriers will reposition their assets to the Southern States to meet the demand and maximize their revenue stream.  Shippers in the non-traditional produce regions can expect issues as well as the trucks that would normally service their loads are no longer in position typically causing increases in costs through July.  Higher volume doesn’t always mean higher rates, but in many instances, that is just the case. Carriers will continue to look in the blue and orange states to find available loads for their drivers and will want to avoid the white states in the map.

Read more about produce season below.


If you are interested in learning more about rates or equipment availability, don’t hesitate to email or call 816-584-2454.