Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor told us Oct. 4 that Gumz will be finished with harvest this week. “We had beautiful weather for harvest this year,” he said. “We have just a few more reds to harvest, and we’ll be done.” Doug said demand is “excellent” this week. “Demand is strong, and the market is steady,” he said. “Pricing is definitely higher than normal for this time of year.” Doug also said that Gumz size profile is leaning to larger mediums and jumbos. He and associates will be representing Gumz Farms in the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) at PMA Fresh Summit Oct. 20 and 21 in New Orleans. Stop by and visit them in Booth 1344.
Derek Ennis with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us demand is good, and his company is moving onions at a steady pace. “We are primarily shipping from our Kansas and Colorado farms at the moment,” Derek said. “We are shipping a few loads from Idaho-Eastern Oregon as well as New York.” Derek continued, “Demand for large yellow onions and reds and whites is very strong this week. The opposite is the case for medium yellows. Demand for medium yellows is very weak, and the market is starting to reflect that.” He said the call for jumbo and super colossal yellows “is very strong,” and he said, “The market is steady on everything except medium yellow onions. I think that market should settle at some point soon.” As far as availability, he said smaller onions are more abundant than larger.
Bob Sakata with Sakata Farms in Brighton said on Oct. 4 that his operation got a late September start to shipping, and the crop has come in looking great. “We still have about 100 acres out in the field,” he said. “We’re bringing them in and curing them and then pulling out of storage.” Bob said yellows, whites and reds are shipping, and he noted, “The market looks good.” Whites sized up especially well, 80 percent jumbo and 20 percent medium, he said. Yellows are coming in 60 percent jumbo and 40 percent medium, and Bob said reds are “about 50/50.” All reds are in storage, and all three colors are moving well.
Colorado Western Slope:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said that his Colorado deal is going great. “We’re shipping reds and yellows, and whites will start next week,” he said on Oct. 4. “Quality and size are both very good, and the growers need about another 10 days to get everything in.” Don Ed said the crop size is down from a year ago due to the loss of acres to weather earlier in the year. The deal will run through mid-January.
Bob Meek with Onions 52 in Syracuse, UT, said his company’s Colorado deal is “in full swing now, with good size – more size than not, in fact.” He said the crop is mostly yellows with some reds, and the shed is running steady. “We’ll be done in January,” he said of the Montrose deal.
Bob Meek with Onions 52 in Syracuse told us his company’s Utah operation has encountered some rain delays, and harvest was at about 50 percent on Oct. 4. “We’re bringing onions in to store for a few days and the running them” Bob said. Quality is good, but he said the crop is “not yielding and sizing is not huge.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Oct. 4 that about 60 percent of the crop was in. “Weather has been good for harvest, and the onions are absolutely fantastic.” He said the onions have sized mostly to jumbos, colossals and supers. “We’ll start shipping around Oct. 20, as soon as harvest is buttoned up,” Don Ed said, and the deal will run to mid-February.
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, weighed in on all sides of the Idaho-Eastern Oregon deal Oct. 4. “Demand has been as much as we can handle and still have enough employees to store as well,” he said. “The national movement is definitely off right now, according to shipment numbers, but this has been a big help to us as we simply do not have enough labor to store at a heavy rate and pack full days. We will have buildings empty this year and no onions outside, so for us the slowdown is a welcome reprieve as we need to get the onions out of the field and then make a game plan for how we stretch this crop to meet our customers needs.” Dwayne continued, “I will say it is always interesting when things get a little quiet on the sales side. Some commission sales people get nervous and start talking the market down in an effort to try to drive sales. From my experience, when this happens, it makes buyers hold up orders to see if it is going to come off and has a negative effect on movement. Given this is a true supply driven market, I would encourage anyone who is feeling slow and needs something to do to come on down, and we will put you on a storage crew!” He said, “As we move forward in this industry, there is no question labor shortages will continue to be one of our biggest challenges.” Dwayne said larger onions are most in demand. “Big stuff continues to move at a brisk pace,” he said. “Our size profile remains true to what we have seen so far this season, a higher percentage of small onions.” The market, he said, has been steady, and availability is tight. “We are tight on supplies because of the limited production hours. We are focused on getting the onions in storage.” And, Dwayne added, “We are very optimistic about this market. When normal demand comes back after storage, we are confident we will see prices strengthen for our farms and growers. Trucks are very tight right now with the natural disasters our country has been dealing with. Once they shake loose again and we can utilize some rail, this will certainly help with the transportation headaches we are currently dealing with. On the farming side we had anticipated that our yields would be off significantly and had conservatively adjusted our estimated hundredweight accordingly.” Still, “Many of our new yield estimates are not being realized. The fields are either thinner than we thought or sizing is off more than anticipated. On the marketing side our customers are extremely happy to have a strong market. They are excited that they can actually make some money on onions too.”
Ashley Robertson with Fort Boise Produce in Parma, ID, said on Oct. 3 that the market has been “very steady,” and she added, “We’ve been going pretty slow in order to take our customers into April.” Fort Boise is running all colors and sizes, and she said “big onions are tight.” She added, “There are some jumbos and lots of mediums.” Quality is good, and demand “exceeds supply.” Ashley said three to four weeks of harvest remain.
Bob Meek with Onions 52 in Syracuse, UT, said the Idaho-Eastern Oregon deal is a “mixed bag.” He continued, “The crop is not going to perform, and the clock is ticking. Labor is a very big issue. The growers can’t find enough labor, and they’re struggling to get the crop in.”
Bob Meek with Onions 52 in Syracuse, UT, said harvest of the Prosser crop “will be finished this weekend and is coming in pretty well.” He said there had been rain that “kept us out of the field, but other than that, we’ve had good harvest weather.” He said the crop looks to be “pretty normal, with average sizing across the board.”
Bob Meek with Onions 52 in Syracuse, UT, said planting is underway in Texas and Mexico, with growers “getting ready for next season.”
Featured Image: Columbia Basin onion harvest. Photo posted in Instagram by Conrad Williams.