Washington State’s 2020 Walla Walla Sweet Onion season kicked off Thursday, June 18, at Walla Walla River Packing, as Locati Farms/Pacific Agra Farms started harvest. Sales are handled by Keystone Fruit Marketing’s Walla Walla office.
OnionBusiness.com caught up on June 24 with Michael J. Locati, fourth generation of his family to raise onions in the Walla Walla region and president of Locati Farms. Mike is also partner in Pacific Agra Farms with Harry Hamada, Luke Hamada, Art Villa and Vidal Pedroza, and of whom also brings extensive farming background to the corporation.
Mike said, “We started last Thursday, and things are looking really good. The onions are doing well, and we’re seeing above-normal yields.” Some acreage was lost during spring flooding, he said, but the remaining acres have seen good growing conditions.
“We have great quality with our yellows, and we’re sizing heavy to jumbos now,” he said. “We will see colossals as the season progresses.”
In addition to the traditional Walla Walla Sweets, the exclusive Walla Walla Rosé Sweet Onion, a red sweet introduced by Locati, will be available around July 10, he said.
“The reds also look very good. They’re sizing up really well, trending to jumbos,” Michael noted on June 24. Like their yellow Walla Walla Sweet Onion siblings, the Rosés are available in 40-pound cartons and 3-pound consumer bags.
Locati said the season is expected to run through mid- to late August.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla said the company is very excited about the new season. “We are marketing a very good crop, and the demand is high. And we are also excited about marketing the new Walla Walla sweet reds under the brand name Rosé.”
Dan continued, “Now, this red sweet is the real deal, a true sweet onion. We have attractive new packaging for the cartons and bags.” He said Keystone is rolling out great marketing for the Rosé too.
“Even in this crazy environment we are currently living in, consumers still want to know where their food comes from,” he said. “So, we are highlighting our grower in our promotions and making that connection with the consumer. It’s all pretty exciting.”
Images courtesy of Michael Locati with Locati Farms/Pacific Agra Farms and Dan Borerwith Keystone Fruit Marketing