Featured image: Asumendi Produce new crop onions, photo courtesy of Ken Stewart with Asumendi Produce in Wilder, ID
Early Treasure Valley onions are coming out of the fields, and we’ve spoken to several Idaho-E. Oregon growers and shippers about what they’re seeing.
At Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, Madison Froerer told us that sizing is smaller but quality good. “Harvest is just beginning,” she said on Aug. 15. “We are seeing slightly smaller sizes in both reds and yellows. Overall quality is very good. There is a significant gap in production in central California, and New Mexico looks to be finishing up. So, we should have a very clean transition and be able to hold prices as we begin shipping from Idaho later this week.”
Marc Bybee with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa said on Aug. 15, “I’m excited about the coming season. As of today here at Eagle Eye Nyssa we are finishing up some production changes, and I am looking forward to the improvements those will bring.”
Marc said, “The early onions look great – they aren’t very large but the quality looks good. We have started packing all colors this week and already have too many orders for the onions we currently have available. There does not appear to be an abundance of onions ready at this time, and it’s two weeks later than we normally start.” He continued, “I’m sure there will be more every week, but I don’t expect the Treasure Valley to get the blame for over-suppling the early onion market.”
And, Marc went on to say, “The storage crop fields look to be all over the board. I see great fields and I see… other fields. It still feels very much like a repeat of 2021 could be coming, but hopefully with better quality. It’s a totally manageable situation should we in the industry choose to manage ourselves.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, said on Aug. 16 crews had started bringing onions in out of the field the previous day, and he told us, “We will start packing within the next several days, and quality on the early onions looks very nice. But the area is not ready to rock ‘n’ roll quite yet. It will likely be right before or right after Labor Day before we get into any real volume.”
Kyle Erstrom at Snake River Produce in Nyssa said on Aug. 16 that SRP will kick off the 2022 onion harvest on Monday, Aug. 22, with its early white variety, followed by reds and yellows later in the week.” Kyle said, “We are set to start packing the following Monday, Aug. 29. The crop is telling us it is time to fire up, with necks breaking and onions going through their natural life cycle.”
But he added, “It is going to be a tough week to harvest, as Mother Nature is bringing in another heat wave. Temperatures are to rise well into 100+ degrees. This means we will have a small window to bring in product each day, and everyone involved will need to be firing on all cylinders.”
The early varieties, Kyle said, “took the biggest beating this spring due to being the first planted, which allowed wind, rain, and cool temperatures to really set them back. The size profile out the gate might not be what it has been in the past, but no doubt the quality is going to be good.” Kyle also said, “The storage onions are doing great. They are still standing strong, putting on size, and that dark skin everyone loves to see in an onion. And all of us at SRP are super excited to get this season going and take on the challenges that this season has in store for us.”
Chris Woo checked in with us on Aug. 17 and said, “Onion harvest is getting underway, and beer hops harvest will be soon as well. The weather has been warm and dry. A few sheds and growers are getting onions ready to catch the early market, and with California and New Mexico getting out of our way, demand and inquiry for our fresh new crop I would say is very good.” Chris also said, “Early sizes of non-storage varieties on all three colors are mostly good size jumbos. With the weather cooperating, onions are drying down and curing rather nicely.” He added, “Other fields for storage and later usages are being watered one or two more times for after Labor Day harvest. Once the area gets going full blast, we should not see any interruptions, and it looks like another fine crop that will be coming out of Idaho-Oregon.” Our thanks to Chris for a charming selfie.
At Champion Produce Sales in Parma, Dwayne Fisher said of the 2022 crop, “Better late than never! Mother Nature has not made things easy this year, no question about that, but we are finally going to get started packing on Aug. 29at both Champion Produce and Tamura Farms. Well, at least that is the plan! Our team has worked tirelessly to get us the best crop possible, given all the challenges that have been thrown our way.” He added, “We are optimistic for a strong market, and given our record growing costs, guys will drop out like flies in 2023 if the market doesn’t yield great returns. There is just too much labor, risk and investment to grow onions if you can’t make some money doing it.”
Dwayne continued, “We have really focused on our plant health and believe that will pay off in average yields and excellent quality. For this year that will be a win! Everything is shaping up to be very positive as we get back into the best onion shipping region in the country, Idaho-Eastern Oregon! We are excited, and our customers are elated to get back to our storage crop. We will have all three colors available when we start. Expect large stuff to be on the tighter side all year, but especially early.” Many thanks to Dwayne for sending onion photos including Tamura Farms owners, Chris Tamura and Ben Tamura showcasing this year’s crop.
Ken Stewart with Asumendi Produce in Wilder, ID, also weighed in, saying, “Asumendi Produce will begin our season a week or so later than expected. The hot weather of the last month or so has not been ideal.” He said the crop is “normal for this time of year, and we anticipate yields to be normal as well.” He added, “If the weather cooperates through harvest season, we expect onion quality to be good. It appears we should have a good transition from the summer regions to storage crop. We are looking forward to a good year in the IEO region.” Our thanks to Ken for great photos! Click the image to enlarge.