A spate of hot days in the Treasure Valley of Idaho-Eastern Oregon has some onion stands hip-high, but others are in the six-inch range, according to several shippers in the region.
Daytime temps for most of the first week of June were at or just below the 100F mark, and Grant Kitamura at Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, said early onions are benefiting from the heat.
“The crop that got in early is doing really well,” Kitamura told OnionBusiness.com. “We’re seeing good stands with good progress. The later crop stands are more erratic and are progressing more slowly. We had erratic weather, and from that came some erratic stands, but they’re all growing now. We’re far from harvest, so we’re waiting to see how Mother Nature works on this crop.”
At Snake River Produce in Nyssa, OR, Kay Riley said the area’s crop so far “seems to be in a range from very good to poor.” Kay said, “Some of the crop is so good so early that it’s mind-boggling. We had some pounding rain, and the early onions fared better. Also, some fields have weeds because the onions emerged early.” He and Tiffany Cruickshank said harvest could start as early as Aug. 15.
“We’re going to start as early as possible,” Kay continued. “We are optimistic that after California and New Mexico we will move into a good market. The prices are soft right now, but they’re still awfully good.”
In Weiser, ID, Herb Haun at Haun Packing said his crop is about 10 days early, and the plan now is to start harvest Aug. 8-10, packing later that same week. He said the growers are working to keep the moisture at the right level to eliminate stress caused by heat.
And in Parma, ID, at Champion Produce Sales, John Wong, Dwayne Fisher and Cheryl Leavitt said their 2016 crop is a week to 10 days early as well. “We have our fields set up to irrigate heavy right now anyway,” John said, noting the crop is at the growth stage that calls for heavier irrigation.
Fisher said the growers have 80 percent of their fields under drip, which helps mitigate stress, and Wong noted, “Really the heat is ideal for growth right now.”
Fisher noted that harvest will likely start in mid-August, and Leavitt said Champion will work to ship through April, pulling from storage.