Reduced shipments have relieved some downward pressure on fresh vegetable prices from earlier in 2012, although prices for most vegetables still remain below levels from the previous year, according to the latest USDA Vegetables and Melons Outlook.

Even with the realization of a hotter and drier summer than normal, the volume of fresh vegetables remains above 2011 levels.

There were reports of reduced summer plantings in response to low prices, and the July shipment volume of many fresh vegetables eased from highs of the previous month and earlier 2012. Total U.S. planted onion acreage declined almost 4 percent between 2011 and 2012.

Although most fresh vegetable prices at the point of first sale have rebounded from lows of early 2012, they are still well below prices in the second quarter of 2011, according to the report.

Average April to June 2012 prices for broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery and field tomatoes are all at least 25 percent below the previous year. Still the second quarter price index for all vegetables was more than 30 percent higher than first quarter 2012 with only asparagus, celery, sweet corn, and snap bean grower prices below averages from earlier in this year.

Overall volume of fresh vegetables was down 17 percent between June and July 2012. Based on prices reported to date for third quarter 2012, projections are for a slow increase in the overall vegetable grower price index driven by relatively sharp price increases for some commodities and more modest decreases in others.

Much of the fresh vegetable production is either irrigated and/or grown outside regions most affected by the extreme weather this past summer. In some cases, warmer-than-normal weather has accelerated the production of vegetable commodities.

New York reported its harvest of sweet corn, beans and tomatoes ahead of average and many other states were reporting good yields. July sweet corn shipments fell 62 percent compared with the previous month but remained almost 40 percent above shipments from July 2011.

Shipment volume remains high in herbs, Chinese cabbage, chile peppers, and Roma tomatoes (field-grown) where July 2012 totals were up over both the previous month and July 2011. As temperatures began to cool in September, conditions improved for fall vegetables.