Crop and Market – July 2022
Spring has been cool and late in most of the country — wet in a lot of places, but not enough out west. Honey prices continue to rise, due to the federal antidumping act and higher production and packaging costs, but demand is still strong.
Pennsylvania’s spring weather has been up and down, and so has the year’s outlook for honey production. Nuc deliveries were a little late, as was the spring, and overwintered colonies required heavy feeding in some areas. But populations were catching up in May, and prospects looked good for clover, basswood, honeysuckle and autumn olive. Retail sales have been fair to good, but the wholesale market has suffered to some degree from inflation-driven price hikes, and from new competition from startup operations needing to move last year’s honey.
Spring was also behind schedule in New York, making production forecasts dicey. Retail demand remains constant.
New Hampshire’s late spring slowed development of nucs and packages, but May warmth sped things up. Honeysuckle and autumn olive flows were good, and black locust, sumac and basswood should be as well. High diesel prices (doubling from last year) will force commercial producers to raise honey prices.
Maine’s weather has run two weeks behind. The maple flow was good, and retail demand is strong. Only one commercial operator in the state takes bees (about 2400 colonies) south for winter, and is back in time for blueberries. One reporter is experimenting this year with sainfoin, a legume that is both a good livestock forage (no bloat and less methane) and a great nectar plant.
Maryland’s spring was about a week late, then brought warm weather and strong buildup followed by a cool spell and hives loaded with swarm cells. Tulip poplar and wildflower flows were strong early on.
Tennessee’s cool spring slowed buildup, but soil moisture is good, and early flows were strong from maple, tulip poplar, blackberry and clover. Swarms around Nashville have been “earlier and larger” than usual. Retail demand is good, with Instagram and Facebook marketing effective. Some wholesalers are facing lowball offers from buyers trying to beat inflation, but most prices are holding or increasing.
Virginia’s weather has been good this spring. Rain held off during a strong autumn olive flow, and Asian honeysuckle was also productive. One reporter scored a hit at the farmers market with honey-flavored lemonade.
White and crimson clover and dandelion led early spring nectar sources in Alabama, where winter hung on a bit late and many colonies required feeding. Honey has sold well retail; in-store sampling is always a hit.
Georgia wholesale prices have risen dramatically, but sales have been good, in part due to higher shipping costs for imports. The orange and black gum crops were poor, but poplar was looking good.
Florida’s orange crop was very poor, due to citrus greening and a February freeze. But wholesale prices are increasing, due to both the shortage and the federal antidumping action. “I’m the most pessimistic I’ve been in years,” says one reporter, adding, the “only bright spot right now is honey prices are fair.”
Wholesale prices are also rising in Louisiana, and demand is brisk. Retail sales remain strong as well, as honey is considered a “staple food for many now.” As in much of the country, the season is running about two weeks late. Early flows have been average, but soil moisture is good overall.
New Mexico’s winter losses were not bad, and spring buildup has been good, with minimal feeding needed. Retail demand is good.
Northern Illinois saw a mild winter, followed by a cold, wet spring, though ground moisture was still below average due to last year’s drought. The apple bloom was running 2-3 weeks behind schedule, as was colony buildup; many required heavy feeding due bees having too little “opportunity to get out for groceries.”
Things were also behind schedule in Indiana, though a stretch of warm weather in early May jump-started things. Good early nectar flows included autumn olive and honeysuckle.
The Wisconsin Honey Producers have set up a web page to track damages from black bears, and the state now has a full-time apiary staff. Apple and dandelion crops have been good thus far. A rapid warmup, with record May temperatures and ample moisture, has sped buildup of package bees. The wholesale market has been good, with more out-of-state buyers.
Michigan’s spring was late and cold, and some feeding has been necessary. Wholesale and retail markets continue to be strong.
Missouri saw a mostly mild winter till February, after which it just hung on. Spring was again late, cool and wet, but once things warmed up by early May, everything bloomed at once, including swarm cells. Black locust in the east was strong at first, then cut short by 90-degree temps. Plenty of early rain promises a good clover crop.
Western Kansas in May remained in a serious drought, having gone “220 days with less than an inch of rain,” which meant very little pollen or nectar and heavy feeding. The only bright prospect for honey was irrigated alfalfa. At least wholesale prices are increasing. Nuc and package sellers abound this year, driving down prices from about $200 to $140 for both.
Nebraska is very dry as well, and even the dandelions have suffered. The season was running about three weeks late. Demand for honey is high, and prices are increasing.
After a warm March, April was cold and windy in Iowa. Good ground moisture bodes well for the clover crop. Retail demand is good amid heavy local competition.
Soil moisture remains poor in Colorado, and the outlook is iffy for the season. Crabapple and ornamentals produced average crops, though incessant winds made foraging difficult. One reporter had good success with “chocolate honey” (using organic cacao powder) as an Easter special.
Nevada is also dry, and while early alfalfa yields were fair, rain is needed to boost other crops. Honey is selling well.
In Washington, warm weather in March and April promoted rapid buildup. Then, “between the rains,” maple, dandelion, apple, cherry and pear have produced well. Honey demand is good, with consumers citing health benefits and use as a sweetener.
Ground moisture is low in Oregon, though there was snow in April. Splits were good coming out of almonds. Early flows were average from cherry, blueberry and maple. Prices are up due partly to tariffs and the war in Ukraine.
Colonies are looking good in Hawaii. People are planting more and more gardens and fruit trees, so demand for pollination is rising, along with demand for domestic honey. Early crops include orange, macadamia nut, coconut, hale koa, mesquite, agave, banana, and java plum.