Delayed Produce Could Lead to a Busy May

The end of the month didn’t bring the upward bump that we typically see when shippers try to move goods before closing their books. Severe weather might have played a part, with storms and flooding across East Texas and many southern states.

We’re hearing a lot about shipping gaps in California due to delays in planting because of an unusually wet winter, which explains the flat reefer volumes last week. California produce should gain strength in the coming weeks. Van load counts were already up big last week, with an uptick in freight moving out of L.A. and Stockton and van rates trending up out of Los Angeles.

Van volumes were down in Dallas as well as Chicago, though, and the overall spot market was basically flat week-over-week.

Load-to-truck ratios are highest for vans in the darker red areas on the Hot States Map above.

Even with the dip in volumes, Dallas was still in the top 5 for van load posts on DAT load boards. The top 4 were the same as last week – Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston and Dallas – but Indianapolis edged out Memphis for the no. 5 spot. Overall, per-day volumes in April were pretty much on par with March.


The slow and steady trend of more gaining lanes than falling took a step back last week. On the top 100 van lanes, 50 were down, 41 were up, and 9 were neutral. Most changes were slight, though.

  • Seattle to Eugene, OR was up 13¢ to $2.13/mile
  • Denver to Albuquerque rose 10¢ for an average of 1.76/mile
  • Houston to Oklahoma City was up 10¢ to for a springtime high of $1.91/mile


The biggest drop was in Philadelphia rates, but price changes were otherwise pretty limited.

  • Philly to Boston dropped 22¢ to $3.12/mile
  • Allentown, PA to Richmond also dipped 11¢ to $1.98/mile
  • Columbus to Buffalo also lost 10¢ for an average of $2.55/mile

Load-to-truck ratios are highest for reefers in the darker blue areas on the Hot States Map above.

If you just looked at the national average reefer rate, you might think that there wasn’t much new happening for reefers, but there was a surge in produce crossing the Mexican border last week. Reefer load-to-truck ratios soared in markets like Nogales, AZ, and Laredo, TX, but the highest ratio was in McAllen, TX, where volumes soared 64%.


After interruptions caused by recent wildfires, produce was shipping out of Florida again, and the biggest rate increases were on lanes leaving the state:

  • Miami to Northern New Jersey reefer rates were up 17¢ to $2.26/mile
  • Central Florida is hitting peak season, and the lane from Lakeland to Baltimore added 24¢ to $2.24/mile

Out of California, volumes were flat, with higher load counts out of the Fresno area offset by declines farther south. In fact, California was 4th for reefer loads, behind (1) Texas, (2) Florida, and (3) Georgia.

Still, the lane from Los Angeles to Denver hit a high for the year so far at $2.65/mile, and yesterday it was back to $2.60. This lane rate typically rises in May and peaks in June, so it could be trending up for the next 6-8 weeks.


  • Sacramento to Denver slipped 14¢ to $2.17/mile
  • Grand Rapids to Cleveland fell on lower volumes, down 28¢ to $2.92/mile
  • Outbound averages fell in Nogales and Fresno, but that had more to do with a change in where the freight was going. More of those loads were moving on long haul lanes, which pay less per mile than short hauls.

Find loads, trucks and lane-by-lane rate information in the DAT Power load board, including rates from DAT RateView.

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