Rick Minkus with Minkus Family farms in Hampton reported on Aug. 30 Minkus is completing transplant harvest and will start harvest of direct seeded onions soon. “We have had some cooler weather here, so we are running a little late on harvest,” Rick said. He also told us while Minkus is shipping its own onions, it is moving onions from various parts of the country, too. “Our New Mexico source is finishing up, and California has a little bit to ship, but they are winding down too,” he said. Rick said the quality of onion shipments has been good, adding, “The best thing is that the onions are making a one-way trip, and that’s a good thing.” He continued, “We never want to see them coming back our way, so we can’t complain.” He described the market as steady. “Demand is good too,” Rick said. “We aren’t super swamped, but we are plugging right along.” He said he is starting to see some pressure from Canada. “Canada is starting to ship in our direction, and that’s never good. When they can sell onions here and take home $1.35 to our dollar, they are happy to bring them into our markets.”
Jon Meyer with Market Brothers in Michigan told us harvest has started in that state. “In the next couple of weeks Michigan harvest should be in full swing,” he said. “Quality is looking very good. We had a great growing season, and though some of the fields got a little weedy, the product coming out of the field has been good.” He said sizing is good, adding, “We are getting a lot of mediums out of the fields, and we are even seeing some jumbos.” Jon said the market is solid. “Right now we are shipping yellows and the demand is good on pre-packs,” he said. “The market is holding, and it’s come off a little bit this last week, but it happens every year when more guys come on so it’s nothing new or anything we are concerned about.” Jon said he expects Market brothers to be shipping Michigan reds soon. “Once we get going with our reds, we expect heavy demand,” he said. “We are seeing good quality out there, and we anticipate a good market for our reds.”
Ryan Fagerberg with Fagerberg Farms/Fagerberg Produce in Eaton told us on Aug. 30, “We have had great weather lately, and harvest is moving along nicely.” Ryan said the operation will transition from transplants to seeded in a couple of weeks, “but I still anticipate having a good mix of jumbos and mediums.” Regarding the tragic weather in Texas, he said, “We had to take a few loads off the books for the Houston area due to Hurricane Harvey, and I imagine that it will be quite some time before the recovery process can begin in Texas.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, said on Aug. 30, “Demand has been crazy good on all sizes, and we have been selling out of all products one or two days ahead of production.” Dwayne added, “After last year I think many sheds feel like a $8.50-$9 market is really strong, but in reality when you evaluate yields and our cost increases, this is just an average market for our farms. That being said, we are extremely happy we can experience this solid market during harvest and feel like it will be a good year for returns throughout.” Demand is strongest for colossal and super colossal yellows, which Dwayne said is “extremely tight.” And he said the market is “strengthening as we move forward.” He said, “We even have California customers looking for product. This is a month ahead of when we normally can send product to this area.” He continued, “Yields from the fields are off tremendously, and most growers are trying to keep onions in the ground and on water as long as possible to try to get a better yield. If you evaluate our yields, which are off 30 percent, the average market is still not making our growers much money.” Availability is “very tight,” and quality is “excellent,” he said.
Chris Woo with Baker & Murakami Produce Co. in Ontario, OR, told us demand this week is brisk. “Really, there has been a great deal of interest in all colors and sizes across the board,” Chris said. “But onions coming from the field aren’t in high volume yet. Growers are watering the storage varieties one last time so they can develop size.” Chris said that the market is steady. “This is the best pricing for this time of year we’ve seen in a while,” he said. “I expect the pricing to hold, and I don’t see it dipping after Labor Day like it has in past years.” He said Baker & Murakami is currently shipping all sizes and colors, and he noted, “The quality is lookin’ mighty fine!”
Bernie Pavlock with ProSource Produce in Hailey, ID, marketing and sales for Golden West in Parma, ID, told us shipping has gotten off to a nice start. “Right now, we aren’t shipping large volume because we want to make sure the onions gain good size,” Bernie said. “We aren’t in any hurry, and things are going smoothly.” Bernie said the market is very active this week. “Quality looks very good,” he said. “We are tight on colossals and supers, but other than that we do have adequate availability.”
Jared Gutierrez with Columba Basin Onion LLC in Hermiston reported demand has been good this week. “We are shipping all colors and sizes, but whites are a little tight,” Jared said. “Quality is good right now and getting better as we get further into our direct seeded harvest.” He said the market is steady. “Like all of the Northwest, we are off a little in sizing, and the overall tonnage may be down,” Jared said. “We expect this will have a positive impact on the market for the entire season this year.”
California Five Points:
Mike Smythe, reporting for Telesis Onion, told us that the operation finished packing last week and “now are just working on cleaning the floor for the season.”
Matt Murphy with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Collins and Denver, CO, weighed in this week on the market and on the situation in Texas. He said, “It is really unbelievable and incredibly sad what is going on down there. We don’t have any direct connections in that part of Texas, but it is still very hard to see everyone being displaced. All indications we have heard so far is the South Texas onion shippers saw little to no effect from Harvey.” Matt continued, “The onion market remains strong for the time of year. Most shippers in the Northwest are running low inventory numbers despite being in the middle of harvest. As most have probably told you, small sizes are much more available than the larger sizes of colossals and supers. I am interested to see how things shake out as the bulk of Idaho/Oregon shippers start to hit their stride over the next few weeks.
Colorado will have more supplies soon as the western slope gets going and more growers on the eastern plains get started.
The wholesale markets seem to be finally reacting to lack of supply. Pricing has been able to firm up recently as the last of the summer onions have been flushed out of the marketplace.
All in all, I think it’s shaping up to be a good market this fall for all parties involved in the onion business.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, told us on Aug. 30 growers in Tampico have the majority of seed beds planted. “It’s been dry and around 90F,” he said, noting that some direct seeded onions have also gone in. “But the bulk of planting will take place after the first of September,” he said. Harvest comes in late January.
Texas Rio Grande Valley and Eagle Pass:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said growers are getting the ground ready in Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley planting will start between Sept. 15 and 20, with most of it wrapped up before Nov. 10. Eagle Pass planting will start around Nov. 10 and finish around Dec. 10, he said. David told us that region of Texas did not receive any moisture from Hurricane Harvey, which is unusual because “the dry side” of a hurricane generally brings two to three inches of rain.
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said crews on the Western Slope of Colorado are “filling tubs with hand clipped reds, yellows and sweets, and we will be packing Sept. 5.” David has reported the crop looks great.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on Aug. 30 his main grower in the Olathe area is holding off another week on harvest to irrigate and gain size in the onions. “One of our biggest markets is the Houston area,” Don Ed said. Because receivers are offline now and could be for a while, John Harold in Olathe will wait until Sept. 8-10 to start harvest, Don Ed said. “The jumbo market is double what the medium market is, and markets don’t usually lie. This leaves me optimistic for this winter.” The Texas onion man also said he’s been watching the situation in Houston closely, and he said, “You’ve got 8 million people in there cleaning up now.” He commended Houstonians for their resolve and strength and said the emergency response has been just as impressive. “I was in San Antonio during the storm, and when I left there were 15 medivac helicopters from across the U.S. at the airport, waiting to get into Houston to help. The Houston airport was still closed, but there are helicopters are airports all around the area on standby, ready to go when the airport opens.”
Featured Image: Instagram post of harvest, Minkus Family farms in Hampton, NY