If we had to pick out a single word to describe 2019, it would probably be “interesting.” Reports almost always indicated good demand, and while we saw pricing experience buoyant lifts, we also saw it ebb. Mother Nature was an absolute pill, too – “capricious” is a good word for much of the planting season and a pretty good chunk of multiple areas’ growing season. She was a real pistol during harvest in a lot of regions as well.
Leaving it to individual interpretation how the year actually turned out, we’re taking a look back over each month of 2019 and resharing the thoughtful reports our terrific contributors provided. Thanks, as always, to those willing to step up and speak out.
January kicked off with what was termed “good demand for onions on a global level.” During the second week of the year, a market uptick was noted, and strong demand – especially for whites – was also reported. Quality was across the board great, we were told, and transportation was also good.
Mid-January saw a steady increase in pricing, and demand continued to be strong. Supplies were tightening, and medium yellows were harder to find. The shortage of onions in Europe contributed to what one Northwest shipper called “a snowball effect,” and there was good demand out of Mexico.
All in all, the mid-January market was very good; business was brisk; and Mexico was a net importer. The third week saw a mixed bag in demand reports, with some Northwest guys saying it was a little slow and others saying it was really good. The market, according to one Idaho-E. Oregon shippers, was “pretty good,” and a lot of shippers were out of whites.
The Northeast experienced some bad weather, which created a hiccup, and the deal was transitioning, with Mexico starting to come in.
Late January going into February saw NW demand a mixed report, with one Washington shipper citing good demand and another saying it had dipped slightly. Both agreed prices had slacked off, with the red and yellow markets a bit weaker as Mexico came in with light volume. The Great Lakes States had suffered a deep freeze courtesy of Mother Nature, causing some sheds to close for a day. They fired back up quickly and saw good demand.
Getting into February, demand was described as mostly good, and pricing was likewise positive. Transportation was termed “adequate,” and most in the industry remained optimistic. Mexico picked up the pace a bit with steady supplies, and one New York shipper told us the market was especially tight on reds and jumbo whites, which created a jump in the market.
By mid-February we were hearing that demand was good for NW onions, but heavy snow in Washington was making it hard for trucks to bring onions into storages and also getting to the sheds to pick up loads. IEO reports were of steady demand and prices with hopes of an uptick in both as the month went on. Mexico continued with lighter movement out of Tampico, and both S. Texas and California were in the bullpen for March and April. Vidalia crop reports indicated what was expected to be a normal start.
Demand picked up some later in February for both IEO and Wisconsin, with medium yellows tight in supplies. Washington was also seeing more demand, and the market was described as “stabilized.” Mexico’s volume increased at the deal’s halfway point, with more whites coming across. S. Texas had a cool spell, which kept any notion of an early start at bay, and New Mexico had a cold snap as well that slowed emergence.
As February closed out and March kicked in, onions were moving well out of Washington, and a break in the weather was in the forecast. The optimistic outlook was for spring weather to help the market and move the needle up on pricing. IEO was reporting a “steady as she goes” market, with good overall movement. Demand ranged from “fair” to “even across the board,” and some sheds were preparing to clean up for the season during March. Planting was expected to start in mid- to late March as a result of snow and rain resulting in wet fields. In Colorado demand was described as “sluggish,” and the market was “getting a bit cloudy” on reds and yellow jumbos. But the weather was good.
Whites were a main topic as March went along, with a domestic shortage and Mexican whites $35 FOB out of S. Texas. Snow continued in the Northwest, and getting the onions on the road remained an issue. Railcars were tight, we heard. Our NW shippers said demand was busier than it had been for a few weeks, and medium yellows were “approaching double digits very rapidly.” IEO tractors and planters were champing at the bit, waiting for the soil to dry out. It was expected that “only a handful of sheds” in the Treasure Valley would extend their season into May. New York was very busy, with jumbo whites and medium yellows in high demand. California had a cold snap, and the start date was expected to be April 20 for some shippers. Walla Walla had seen a lot of snow in early March, and growers were waiting there to get into the fields, too.
Mid- March saw a continuation in “super busy” descriptions from shippers, with demand termed as excellent for Washington onions. The market, one NW shipper told us had “jumped over 100 percent over what it was the last two weeks,” and it was continuing to go up. Holy smokes! Medium yellows were the hot ticket. Reds were becoming tight, and prices kept escalating. An Oregon source said it was “crazy” on March 20, and he told us it was “hard to say where it’s all going.” An IEO shipper said it was a “great couple of weeks for everyone,” and S. Texas said it had been a “busy son of a gun.” In New York, one shipper said he had seen some resistance from buyers about pricing, but reds and whites “are the endangered species list,” and prices were what they were. Some IEO growers were in the fields while others continued to wait for the soil to dry out – it all depended on location. New Mexico remained on track for a spring start, and a S. Texas cool spell put that crop back a few days. Vidalia was looking to ship some Georgia Sweets prior to the official Vidalia Sweet season start.
And then the first quarter was closing out, with a report from Colorado in late March that the market was in a state of flux. Prices, one source said, “have backed off a bit.” The Mexican domestic market had been very active the last week of the month, lessening the volume coming into the U.S. Mexico was into its last week of shipments, too. Texas was getting ready to start up with “not a lot of volume” in the early days of April while Mexico wound down. IEO had become “pretty quiet,” and the market had dropped a little but remained strong. Growers were in the fields, with “quite a few acres” planted in the Treasure Valley.” But rain was not making it any easier for planting there.
There was optimism the market was going to turn around as Mother Nature dinked with multiple areas. It was called the Bomb Cyclone (otherwise known as “spring weather”), and it hit New Mexico with winds. Fields were assessed, and though there were some losses, one source said he was on track for the third week in May. “Part of the New Mexico crop is gone,” he said. But he was also seeing some fields recover. Western Colorado and Utah had experienced rain delays in planting.
The first week of April and the start of the year’s second quarter came with reports of decent demand. One source told us it was “really hard to get a handle on what’s going to happen in the next several weeks.” Much, he said, depended on Mexico buying onions in the U.S. and Texas coming in a bit late. The market had the potential “to go up or down.” A Texas shipper said he expected to run 1015s the next week, and he noted prices were holding well. Whites were “$40 on the low side and $50 on the high.” He was optimistic overall. In Idaho-E. Oregon demand was reported as coming up from a brief down period. Reds were seeing good demand as some shippers ran out, and the market seesawed in pricing – yellows dipping and reds rising. About a dozen sheds remained open in the Treasure Valley at that time, with the expectation two or three would finish up each week until the season was over. One IEO grower told us he’d gotten all his earlies in by March 19, “within the standard time frame.” Showers were causing the farmers some delays, although by the first week of April most of the region’s onions were said to be in the ground. Texas was having rain issues, too.
Mid-April’s spring transition saw sweets still coming in from Mexico, and Peru remained in the mix. Texas 1015s were running, and Georgia Sweets had also started to ship. Hybrids were available out of the Northwest, Midwest and East Coast, and California was starting up. Lots of options; one shipper said the year so far had been “different from normal,” with variations in supplies resulting in volatility in the market. Buying patterns had likewise been different, with variance in shipments as much as 700 loads. “That’s a lot,” he said. But the market had appeared to have steadied, a “good thing.” IEO reported good demand, with one shipper saying the market had dropped off a little. “There is no reason for it,” he said. One Texas shipper said the RGV had started April 9, and he added there weren’t enough onions to go around, with shipments “unusually low for this time of year.” He and others were looking for an Easter push.
A few days later New York was reporting just such a push, saying that on April 17 things had started to pick up. Demand and business were steady for our New York source, who said onions out of IEO were starting to slow down. The official Vidalia start was set for April 22, and Texas 1015s were “running wide open.” Whites out of Mexico were good, and California was expected to start the next week. Some IEO shippers were going into April and May, and Washington was finishing its 2018-19 season. Growers in Colorado were planting full steam the third week of April, with a bit of an increase in acreage in both areas.
In late April we had the Vidalia Onion season going with a strong harvest of well over 9,000 acres. One Texas shipper said the Rio Grande Valley was shipping outstanding quality and would start winding down the second week of May. IEO reported fair to very good demand in late April, and one shipper said he’d be transitioning to the Imperial Valley the last week of the month. Walla Walla had seen a nice change in the weather, with the crop growing well and on track. A June 10 start was predicted. New Mexico was progressing well, but the start date was moved to June 1 due to cooler spring weather. Western Colorado and Utah both wrapped up their planting for the 2019 crops.
And then came May, with reports of demand exceeding supply for some shippers. Prices were holding, and all sizes and colors were reportedly shipping out of California. The Texas Rio Grande Valley was looking to finish by May 20, and one shipper said he’d be finished in Torreón, Mexico, the second week of the month. Chihuahua was starting and would run into June, he added. Wintergarden, Texas, was expected to start mid-May. Storage continued to ship out of IEO, and on the other side of the country, Vidalia was running well. New York had been busy since Easter, a shipper told us, with reds tight “but not as tight as they used to be” and yellows continuing to “hold their own.”
Northern Colorado was looking to start as summer deepened, and Western Colorado and Utah were all planted for their fall starts. During the second week of the month, we received updates out of the Imperial Valley that quality was good and prices were holding. Several shippers told us that demand was good, with yellows doing well, reds “decent” and whites “hit-and-miss.” On May 8 one S. Texas shipper told us his crews were clipping the last 80 RGV acres in coming days. Rain was in the forecast, and he said that could cause a delay to finishing the season. The market had taken a bit of a slide in May, what the shipper said was a result of “too many onions.”
As far as crops in early May, Walla Walla’s was “going good” with hot weather moving in. IEO was in “within the normal planting window” for most growers, and the stands were reported as looking good, too. Both regions were irrigating. Western Colorado and Utah were all planted and awaiting the high temps of summer.
Mid-May market reports were good out of the Vidalia area, with shippers citing good demand, quality and pricing. Texas Rio Grande Valley was cleaning up the week of May 15 for one shipper, and onions were packing out of Chihuahua, Mexico. S. California was describing good movement and nice weather, with no extreme temps in the desert. One Cali shipper said he was moving large volumes of yellows and reds and that whites had “backed off some.”
The last week of May saw good demand in the Treasure Valley, with jumbos running hot. The market was stable, we heard, and trucks were adequate. In Northern Colorado photos showed… six inches of fresh snow! No ill effects reported to the crop, though. The Texas RVG cleaned up, and whites continued across from Chihuahua. One of our brokers said the market was looking at an upswing. He explained, “Overlapping districts and heaps of supply push markets down. We don’t have that right now. We are in great shape for strong markets in June.” The California Central Valley was looking at an early June start, a bit later than normal due to cooler temps, and Walla Walla had gotten some heavy rain.
The start of the third quarter in late May-early June had folks saying they were “super busy.” A S. Cali shipper said demand was good and things were “heating up” on reds. Pricing was steady after increasing over the last week of May. Weather had cooled, and the shipper expected a “nice finish” to the desert season. The Central Valley of Cali was going strong, and quality and size were “absolutely fantastic,” one onion industry member told us. Mexico continued to supply whites, and the S. Texas shipper who was moving them said as far as the market was going, “We’ll see what happens.” New Mexico was a week late, and the early lots were on the smaller size. Quality was said to be excellent. In Washington the crop was growing well and on track for a mid-to-late August start.
The first week of June and going into midmonth saw S. Cali cleaning up and the deal moving northward. A gap between the two regions was shaping up as the Central Valley was slightly behind due to cooler weather. New Mexico was shipping, and shippers told us they were extremely busy meeting strong demand. The market was called “solid.” Mexico was keeping its onions inside its own borders in response to a better market there. Walla Walla called “game on” in early June for harvest and first loads set for market the middle of the month. Everything looked good for the crop. IEO was at last experiencing “optimum growing weather,” and the onions were responding well. A Central Valley shipper weighed in during the third week of June to tell us that demand exceeded supply there. Pricing was “strong and trending up.” A Northern Colorado shipper said the market was strong.
And then rains hit, and the Colorado shipper cited issues in quality of onions out of the wetter regions. Other shippers said the quality they were getting was good – some areas hit harder than others. Vidalia got rain as well, but it was welcome there. In New York weather was “pretty good,” and the market was said to be going up due to tight supplies. Crop-wise, Northern Colorado was seeing good stands and good water after an above-average snowpack in the Rockies. The New York crop of another grower/shipper was looking great, from photos we received.
Later June had excellent demand for Central Valley onions, with demand continuing to exceed supply. Quality was said to be good, and the deal was expected to run well into August. We heard from another shipper who said sales were “more than what they can produce each day, which has caused pricing to be set ‘day-of-loading’ except for program business. “The market was somewhat unstable, with jumbos priced around $15 at that time. Walla Walla was shipping, with pricing at around $22.
Late June brought high demand and high markets. A Washington shipper said the week of June 20 brought a 10-year high in movement. He said demand is traditionally higher right before July 4, but supply and demand had increased that uptick. He said “fewer acres and less than optimal early growing weather have contributed to this.” Walla Walla was busy with harvest and seeing good movement and quality. Pricing was “favorable as well.”
The market was “on fire” on June 24, with a New Mexico shipper saying he hadn’t seen a “market run like this since 2009.” He noted that he’d started at $20, and it “30 minutes to move to $22 on jumbos and $23 on colossals.” Super and jumbo reds were higher yet, and mediums were at $12. One Colorado guy said the market had gone up another $4. Vidalia had moved into storage, and quality was said to be “very good.” A broker said the last week of June had been his busiest of the year, noting it had been a “stampede.” He was shipping out of California as well as overwinters and Walla Wallas out of Washington, noting they were going “all over the place.” And the market, he said, was volatile. Crops were progressing, with IEO seeing some mid-80 temps. Everyone was rooting for another 5-10 degrees. Western Colorado and Utah were looking good, with Colorado expected to start around Labor Day.
Early July came with good demand, and that continued with reports coming in the second week. Medium yellows were the most-sought sizes/color, and the market was steady for Central Valley onions. One shipper said he expected the deal to go until mid-to-late August. Another Central Valley shipper said quality was good and the price was “fantastic.” He said, “We probably won’t see another market like this for 10 years.” Walla Walla was going well the second week of July, both with quality and yields. Labor was also said to be very good. A Northern Colorado guy said he was revising his prediction the market would decline and instead said he expected it to stay high for another couple of weeks.
The Colorado and Utah crops were looking better as higher temps hit those Western states in mid-July. The prediction then was that the crop could be later, thanks to the cooler and wetter growing season.A Northern Colorado grower/shipper told us the onions there looked great, and he was planning a Labor Day-ish harvest, with first loads shipping in mid-September.
A bit past mid-July was busy for most of the industry. Vidalia was going well, with demand remaining solid. One guy said he’d been happy with the pricing. “Anytime you can make money, it’s a good season, and compared to the last couple of years, we’ve done well with this year’s crop,” he said. New Mexico was enjoying heavy demand and a hot market. A shipper there said it had been an “exciting time,” adding that while supplies were ample, “we haven’t had to keep very much product on the floor. It is really moving.”
Prices were good. Good. Good. New Mexico and California were going until mid-August, when IEO was expected to start. Crops in the ground were coming along, with IEO, New York, Kansas, Colorado and Utah all progressing well. Excitement over new crop was high, and attitudes positive.
Late July had markets continuing to stay strong despite suggestions that it “should be coming off.” New Mexico was finished with its big volume, and Washington was readying for its start. A key Northwest shipper said the deal was getting started with its early hybrids, despite initial talk that the crop might be late due to later planting. He credited good growing conditions over the summer with bringing the earlies on and making up some time. He said, “The good thing with this season’s startup is that we are coming into a good market, and so we feel very positive about the new crop going forward.”
At the start of August Vidalias continued to ship well, with quality holding up and supplies including some organics. The market was changing a bit, although a Western shipper said jumbo whites and jumbo yellows “still remain a hard $20 bill from pretty much everyone.” IEO shippers were starting their first loads, with good quality and average size on the early crop. The Central Valley and New Mexico were still going, and Washington was in its early weeks of the season. A Washington shipper said his operation was “getting in on a good market and shipping our sweets, yellows and some red and white onions too.” There were some shippers in California who were wrapping up, and focus was moving to new crop. Harvest continued in Washington, with storage starting the first week of September for some shippers. In New York, shippers were looking at a late August-early September harvest.
On Aug. 15 an IEO/Washington shipper told us he was shipping IEO only because Washington had experienced a rain delay. IEO was trending to jumbos, with all colors and sizes going out the door. Demand was quiet for a couple of days but picked up mid-month, and the market was described as “not where it should be…” The shipper said it had “a lot to do with the fact that there are a lot of regions still in the game,” and he expected it to be bolstered when California and New Mexico cleaned up in a few weeks.
Most agreed the market was dipping some, with a source saying NW pricing was sporadic from shed to shed and by color. Quality, though, was good everywhere. Vidalias were in their last days of the 2019 season, which was “somewhat stressful… but it worked itself out,” as a Vidalia shipper said. Peru was coming in and expected to run strong in September. Onions were coming out of California, New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Mid-August crop news indicated IEO was in very good shape, and early onions were showing with good quality and size. An Ontario, OR, shipper said, “Barring any unforeseen weather issues, we should have a very smooth harvest, and we anticipate storage harvest to start around Sept. 10.”
Later in August Washington and IEO were both moving well and showing good quality. Demand for one Washington shipper was said to be “OK,” and he said of the market, “I think everyone has been waiting for it to settle out, and I think we’re there. There is no way the market is going to crash or anything like that. We should see good stability moving forward.” In New York a grower/shipper told us demand was slow but typical for the last weeks of summer as people traveled and kids went back to school. The broker’s perspective was that the markets were settling,” but “the bleeding seems to have subsided.” And in crops, Wisconsin was prepping for its early September harvest of transplants, while Colorado and Utah were excited about excellent stands and nice crops.
The last few days of August saw demand slow, again attributed to school starting and retailers resetting programs for fall. One Washington shipper said this year, the “difference is that the drop came a little late, which made it feel drastic. Normally, prices start dropping off after July 4, and this year the drop all came at once.” Onions continued to move out of California and New Mexico, although “that is winding down,” the Washington shipper said. Kansas was packing, and one Kansas/Washington shipper said supplies were good in both areas. Peru’s early shipments of sweets were light but expected to increase. IEO had a good start, and weather was warm and dry as onions were curing. Demand was slower there, too, and the market was said to be “still trying to find its settling point.”
Labor Day, and the onion industry was seeing a revival in enthusiasm and movement. New York reported being “busier than we have been for the last couple of weeks.” Market-wise, prices had come down but were holding steady. IEO was also taking note of the busy week, and we heard it was the best level of activity since shipping started in August.
The market was steady, and a Treasure Valley shipper said the future “looks good on our end as temps next week will finally drop down to the low 80s and high 70s and we can start lifting onions for storage.” A broker told us, “The market seems to be stabilizing as storage volumes increase. I think we are going to see the whole thing settle out as shippers are able to get onions under the roof and transition out of volumes that they need to move quickly.” We heard from a California industry member in mid-September, and he told us that harvest continued in the Cuyama Valley. And he said one of his neighbors would “probably be going until the end of October.”
New Mexico was cleaning up in September, while Washington, Kansas, IEO and Colorado were shipping. Washington said demand was “pretty good for this time of year,” and although the market was “a little soft,” it was steady and had found its “leveling off point after the slide” in August. Colorado’s Western Slope was coming in later than normal, with onions being lifted mid-month and expected to start shipping on Sept. 23. In the meantime, growers were planting Mexico.
The third week of September saw the Central Valley of California continuing to harvest, with weather still warm and “no rain in our immediate future.” It rained in the Treasure Valley, and IEO was reporting steady demand that had slowed some from the previous seek. And although the market was stable, that IEO guy said, “You would think it would be higher. The rain we had over the last couple of days is really going to tighten things up here, and we could see the market reflect that.” Another Treasure Valley shipper said the market was steady, adding, “It’s been two weeks since there has been an adjustment in price, and that’s a very good sign.” Western Colorado was shipping, with a slow start to the season. Onions had sized well, and the crop was described as very normal. At that point, the season was expected to run into late January or possibly even into February. Another Colorado shipper said, “We just need the weather to stay warm and dry.”
Then it was late September, and we heard demand wasn’t huge for some. Harvest in Washington was delayed due to rain. IEO was getting rain during harvest, too. On Sept. 25 the sun was shining, which made for better dispositions, but the month was above normal in precip, and the forecast was for much lower temps. Demand was called “fair” in the slow harvest period, but quality and availability were good. Onions were also going into storage, and shippers were looking ahead to “long hours to get this crop in.”
October started with demand ranging from slow to steady in New York, and the yellow market had dipped. One shipper had just completed harvest and said quality was good. In Idaho-E. Oregon, harvest crews were bringing in storage onions. Morning dew was making for later days, but quality was good. Demand was not “very strong” that first week, particularly for whites. A Northwest shipper said the “market is all over the board, with larger sizes at higher prices.
The second week of October brought reports of good weather in the Southeast but still slow demand. Colorado and Kansas were both running, and a major national shipper said Washington was also shipping excellent onions. The Northwest had most of its hybrids in, with the harvest delayed because of the later planting this year.
Cold weather was moving in. In the Treasure Valley most of the crop was in, we heard on Oct. 9 that going forward it would be “one day at a time.” Temps were dropping, and the cold nights were concerning everyone. Crews were working to bring in the remaining onions ahead of the predicted freeze, which hit a good portion of the West. Colorado was also bracing for the freeze and had about 30 percent of the crop in. Utah was at about 60 percent in.
On Oct. 16 we were hearing that not only were there freezing temps in the Treasure Valley but also rain to accompany. One shipper said demand was “slightly better” than it had been in past weeks, and quality was good. Whites were tight. And, he said, “Mother Nature has not been very kind to us on finishing our harvest. We are forecasted to have rain Thursday and Saturday, and I believe as of Wednesday morning the area still has 20-25 percent of the crop on the ground. I’m hearing the same thing from multiple sources.” But we were reminded that “at least 80 percent of the region’s onions are in storage and are in good shape.” Shippers were making good use of their relationships with processors, and daily inspections were ensuring onions being shipped had made grade. It was expected that the region would end up with a shortage due to weather. Colorado had an estimated 25 percent loss of storage, and the season was expected to clean up in December. All eyes were on the market. Would it go up?
The start of October’s final week brought news that a recurring message on the show floor at PMA was that the Northwest had quality onions, and supplies were going to be adequate. Sizing was variable, with IEO trending to jumbos and the Columbia Basin reporting average sizes. The Basin’s onions were largely in prior to the freeze. In Idaho-E. Oregon growers needed “another couple of days to finish harvest,” but it was raining, and the forecast called for more cold temps. Another shipper said, “By Mother Nature’s rules, yes, we have had a rough harvest, but calendar-wise, harvest is on track. Last year, all the onions were near perfect, so it was blow-and-go on packing. So this year, we have to put a little more labor in on the pack-outs, but that’s why you have packing houses, to get quality in the bag and that’s what we’re doing.” He said the market had been “super, super steady for all colors and sizes.” Accounts of acres lost varied and were not verified.
Going into November we heard from Wisconsin that everything was under cover and the crop was “in good shape. “We had some rain at harvest toward the end, but we were able to get all the onions in, and our quality is very good,” our source said. Demand was steady; prices were picking up; supplies were good on medium and jumbo reds. Washington’s harvest was complete. Most of that was unaffected by weather. The market, our shipper source in Washington said, was “showing signs of strengthening” as demand also picked up.
A good portion of the West had been hit by the serious cold snap, with Colorado temps in the teens and the Treasure Valley in single digits. Demand was picking up. Colorado’s onions were in storage, with losses varied from shed to shed and region to region. One of our Colorado guys on the West Slope said he thought losses were between 25-30 percent, but he noted, “We harvested the best.” A broker said retail had picked up, and demand for jumbos was strong. Prices were holding, and he said, “It looks like things are settling out.” Down in Texas, the RGV crop was nearly all in the ground, and Tampico was totally planted.
November finally came after the painful 31 days of October, and many shippers told us the pace had slowed as it typically does as buyers get ready for the holidays. Demand in New York was “pretty even across the board,” but the market had dropped. Colorado’s Western Slope was happy with quality and movement, and supplies were good for November and December. In the Treasure Valley business was steady and expected to pick up for Thanksgiving. The market hadn’t changed significantly and was “holding.” “It’s definitely not where it should be. It should be higher than what we’re getting right now,” an Oregon shipper told us. Another said he had good volume and good quality and was “in great shape for the season.” In California harvest continued in the Salinas and Cuyama Valleys with no rain yet, and quality remained excellent.
Mid-November brought few surprises. In Washington, things were “shaping up nicely for both hybrids and Mayan Sweets for Thanksgiving,” and sales had been good with the expectation for Thanksgiving sales to peak the week before the holiday. Demand was also expected to taper off as folks took off for Thanksgiving week. An Ontario, OR, shipper said on Nov. 13, “We are not seeing any changes in the market at this time,” he said. National Onion Association data showed “the lowest nationwide holdings in the past five years” he said. Another IEO shipper said, “How can we not be positive about what lies ahead for this market? Recently released National Onion Association numbers are exhibit A! Exhibit B would be near or over 400 loads a day shipped per the USDA report. Looks like to me the supply and demand curve are in check.”
And, he added, “Steady price increases should be in our future, nothing fearful, just a good solid market for everyone.”
Getting close to Thanksgiving, Northwest movement was good with a holiday push and firmed-up prices. The market was strengthening while trucks were tightening. Our broker said, “As depressing as October was, things have turned the corner in November. Movement is good. Medium and prepack yellows are difficult to buy. Carton sweets are cranking. Whites are strengthening. Reds are stable.”
Hallelujah, December arrived! Demand started picking up for Idaho-E. Oregon, and the market was “plugging right along.” One Colorado shipper cleaned up on the Western Slope the last week of November. Utah was expected to go into early February, also ending early. A Wisconsin shipper said demand was great there. “Our Thanksgiving shipments were some of the largest on record for the Thanksgiving holiday.” Movement was also good out of Utah, with the markets for whites and yellows stronger.
Our last report for 2019 was filed on Dec. 19, when we told you that Washington demand was decent and “not much has changed.” The Treasure Valley of Idaho-E. Oregon was seeing good demand, although one shipper said the Christmas pull “is a little weaker than expected.” He said the market was strengthening for some colors, better for yellows and steady for reds. Quality was very good, and transportation was adequate. Another shed reported exceptional demand for all sizes and colors, with yellows “through the roof.” The Christmas pull for that shed was strong. He did expect demand to drop Christmas week. Freight prices, he said, were high. Utah was “rolling right along,” with good movement and markets trending up and feeling stronger. Northern Colorado was seeing a busy week, with the next two weeks expected to “include multiple days off for many sheds across the country, which usually creates a bit of an artificial lack of supply.” And crop reports continued to bring news of nice onions in S. Texas and Mexico, with Mexico starting mid- to late January.
So, in a mere 8,000 words you have a look back at a year of highs and lows, great-looking crops and a wicked Mother Nature in some parts of the country. But, as always, the U.S. onion industry soldiered on during the hard times to make sure this country and importers in other nations receive the best onions in the world.
God Bless America, Merry Christmas to all and here’s to a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous 2020!