Post-Independence Day short week
The nation’s three-day (at least) weekend for celebrating its independence has many of us playing catch-up the rest of the week. With that in mind, OnionBusiness will not be publishing a Market and Crop report this week as we give our contributors the chance to settle into their normal routines – “normal” being the operative word these days.
Instead, we’ve compiled a review of 2022’s first six months, looking at a mostly strong market and demand-exceeds-supplies scenario. Our July 14 OB newsletter and website page will have the latest reports.
First half of 2022 defines ‘interesting’
One thing’s certain thus far in 2022 – it’s been interesting. The first six months have been punctuated by a mix of good markets and sketchy weather, giving some shipping areas an exceptional deal and others a question mark.
Here’s the rundown on market and crops since the first of the year:
Early January kicked off with strong markets, and all our contributors reported good demand. The consensus on transportation, however, was anything but good – trucks were scarce, and rates were very high. The S. Texas sand California crop were emerging. Mid-month saw the same – high demand, good prices and miserable transportation. Crops continued to progress in Vidalia, S. Texas and California. During late January short supplies kept demand high, and trucks could be found; they were expensive, however. Mexico was having a slow start.
February’s start was a continuation of high demand and strong market conditions, with reds and jumbo yellows getting the most calls. Trucks were tight, and rates remained very high, Mexico was moving a bit more. Cooler weather was slowing crops in S. Texas, New Mexico and California. During the second week, demand was higher for some shippers and had backed off a bit for others with the NW short crop. The market stayed strong, and of course transportation remained the thorn in everyone’s side. Crops at that time looked to be catching up after cooler temps had given way to warming trends. More of the same supply-and-demand scenario as the month continued – some shippers were reporting they didn’t have enough onions to fill any orders outside their regular customers’. Reds and yellows still drove the demand bus, and Mexico was shipping all three colors. Late February was somewhat repetitious, with strong demand and good market conditions. Transportation was somewhat less of an issue, with prices having dropped a bit, at least temporarily. Crops were doing well.
Our first report in March was that demand and the market were both staying high, and already low supplies in the NW were getting even lower. Some guys in Idaho-E. Oregon were wrapping up the season within a few weeks, and Mexican volume slowly picked up. Planting had started in S. Colorado, and Vidalia was looking good. Cooler temps returned to S. Texas and California, slowing growth while Vidalia stayed on track. That demand/market trend continued as more NW shippers wound down during the second week, and by mid-month new crop was coming in from Texas and more from Mexico. Planting started in SE Colorado. Jumbo reds and colossal and medium yellows held the demand spotlight as the month progressed. Idaho-E. Oregon was winding down, and planting in the Treasure Valley was underway. The last week of March saw demand slow somewhat as Mexico was strong with all three colors. Prices dipped as well, but shippers were looking for an Easter pull. Some SW shippers were transitioning from Mexico to Texas.
April started as a mixed bag, with some shippers reporting a bump in demand while others said the month had gotten off to a sluggish start. More onions were shipping out of S. Texas, with one shipper telling us that he thought the 2022 Easter/Passover pull was strongest since the pandemic began, and he said for USA-grown product, demand far exceeded supplies. Transportation was easier to procure; rates remained high. The pull was stronger heading to mid-month, and pricing correspondingly rose. Vidalia started packing April 12, and that area reported good movement. S. Texas came in short, and shippers were expecting to wrap up mid-May. Mexico was still going strong, and the New Mexico/N. Mexico crops were progressing normally at that time. In late April we heard a Washington shed would wrap up in early May, with California having started the week before. Rains hit S. Texas, delaying harvest and extending the season.
The first report of May for the Imperial Valley was that the start in late April had been smooth, with shippers rallying together. Demand was good, and the market was strong. One shipper noted that pricing was good enough that growers might being to “see some financial light at the end of the tunnel after paying more for increased labor, fuel, growing and transportation cost.” Texas continued to wind down as California came on stronger. Mid-month demand was strong for Vidalia and Cali; whites out of Mexico were described as “beautiful!” By the third week of May shippers were tapping their feet and looking at their watches, waiting for the Memorial Day pull that had yet to materialize. Demand was good, just not holiday stuff. The market was said to be in a state of flux, with S. Texas still in the mix. New Mexico was poised to start;
Walla Walla was sizing up. Market and movement were both good late in the month, with larger size profiles being packed in California. Eagle Pass in Texas continued to ship all three colors, with whites coming across the border. New Mexico’s start was said to be slow.
Late May and early June saw onions coming several areas – California, Arizona, New Mexico, Mexico, Vidalia and some from Texas as well. All sizes and colors were moving well, and one California guy told us that the entire season had seen a good market. Growers, he said, “have been able to make some money, so we really don’t have any complaints – it really has been a great season.” There was a slight gap cited by some marketers during transitions, but overall movement was strong. Walla Walla was seeing a slight rain delay. One shipper told us that S. Cali quality was good, and his operation was transitioning to the San Joaquin Valley where all signs were good. “It looks very promising that this market stays firm and even strengthens as we get a little further into summer,” he said. Vidalia was moving into storage, and demand had been good. The Imperial Valley was cleaning up mid-month, and Walla Walla was looking to start. And at the end of the month, as they waited for the Independence Day pull, shippers were giving us varied reports. Vidalia had seen demand slow somewhat, a shipper said. One California guy said demand was good, but supplies were short. “California is gapping, and New Mexico doesn’t have enough onions to supply the world this week,” he said. New Mexico was 100 percent on sizing and colors, with one shipper telling us monsoons had started early, causing rain delays. “This normally doesn’t happen until July so this could get interesting,” he said. Indeed it has.
We’ll return with our regularly scheduled programming next week.