Trish Lovell at Agri-Pack in Pasco said her area has been hit by bad weather recently, and major roads remained closed on Jan. 11. “We’re basically shut down with the weather,” Trish said. “We’re running today, but we can’t run the rest of the week. We will load trucks tomorrow starting at 9 a.m. and will only load until 3 p.m.,” she added. Trish said Interstate 82 had been closed since Tuesday due to a massive pile up at the Washington-Oregon border. “Interstate 84 is closed from Portland to The Dalles, and even trucks that loaded yesterday were still here at noon today because of the snow and blowing snow.” She said the company made the decision not to try to move onions out of storage to the packing shed in the bad weather. “We are not going to take the chance with our trucks hauling from storage to packing. We’re not going to risk injury or loss of life. It’s that simple.” The forecast for the Tri-Cities was for extreme cold, down to 1F Wednesday night with a high of 9F forecast for Thursday. The low Thursday night is supposed to plunge to negative 2, Trish said.
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, told us Jan. 11 that “right now demand exceeds availability.” He said demand for whites and yellows is very strong, and demand for reds is steady. Herb said it appears the market is climbing, adding, “It does seem like the recent Treasure Valley weather has had an impact on the market. Even the UP is suffering with frozen switches and snow build up.”
Chris Woo with Murakami Produce Co. LLC in Ontario, OR, also told us that demand has exceeded expectations for this time of year for all sizes and colors. “We expected higher demand after the first of the year, but nothing like this,” Chris said. “The good thing is we planned for a push, so we our production is able to get good quality onions ready to go.” He said weather is making it difficult to get all of the orders out, explaining, “Drivers don’t want to come out this way because of the dangerous conditions.” And he said, “All the prices are climbing — more than what we expected.”
Eddie Rodriguez, owner and sales director of fresh pack at Partners Produce in Payette, ID, told us the market is on the upswing, with pricing Jan. 11 at $6.50 and moving to $7. Eddie said the Treasure Valley is off in shipments by 25 percent. “Normally, at this time we are at 170 loads per day with the top end at 200,” he said. “It looks like right now we are doing well to get out 100 loads.”
Don Ed Holmes at The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on Jan. 11, “The phones have been ringing off the wall, and we’re sold out this week and the rest of the season.” Onion House’s Colorado deal wraps up later this week, and Utah will finish the end of next week, he said.
Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor told us demand has increased since the first of the year. He said, “We have a steady supply of good quality medium yellows, and we haven’t seen any transportation issues.”
John Harris with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Collins/Denver, CO, told us on Jan. 10 the market has seen a lift. “The onion market following the Christmas holiday always seems to go up. For one reason or another, it always goes up. This year is no exception. Days off from holidays and days off from weather are creating an up market this week and probably into next week as well.”
John continued, “Reports are that Mexico is going to be ready to go with some volume on whites and yellows in 15-20 days. That and not to mention the end of January/beginning of February is always slow. Always. We are on a teeter-totter right now. Today we are on the high side of the market, and given the current low fob’s that we have been faced with this season, the growers are doing all that they can to capitalize on the situation. Certainly no one would hold that against them. Fob’s are still low in general on reds and yellow with the exception of whites, which are in tight supply and priced accordingly. I expect fob’s to adjust as availability comes back on board.”
He said, “Supplies will likely overtake demand again at the end of the month, and we will be battling different market conditions than we are currently in. None of this is unusual in any way, and the producers and buyers should prepare accordingly. I would certainly expect whites to remain tight through at least the end of January. We will have to see what Mexico’s plan is before thinking much beyond that.”
About the weather in the West, John said, “The damage and the aftermath that the heavy snow caused to several of the packing sheds in ID/OR I think is still being assessed. It will have an impact on the remainder of the year and the market going forward without question. I think it remains to be seen it will be a short- or longer term issue.”