Trish Lovell with Agri-Pack in Pasco said on March 8 that onion prices are “pretty weak, and there doesn’t seem to be much strength.” She said, “Everybody needs to move their onions, and there’s a lot of pressure on everyone. We know what we’re dealing with, and we’re trying to get through it. Demand is just so-so.” Agri-Pack is finished with its whites, and Trish said reds will go through March. Yellows will go through May, she said. “Quality is good on both reds and yellows, and the yellows are especially nice.” She said sizing now is mostly mediums and smaller jumbos. The company has seen little in exports this year, although Trish said Agri-Pack moved a load to Japan recently. “We just have to keep moving forward and do the best we can,” she said.
Steve Baker with Baker Packing in Ontario, OR, told us demand this week has been fair, and he said, “The last three weeks our shipment numbers have been very consistent.” Jumbo yellows have been in higher demand for Baker Packing, and he added the company has good availability on yellows and reds, with tight supplies on whites. “The onion market has been in a gradual slide the last month,” he said. “I’m hoping we have seen the bottom, especially on yellows!” Steve said Baker Packing Co. will be shipping onions through April.
Trevor Frahm with Frahm-Fresh Produce in Ontario, OR, told us March 8 his company continues to pack at full steam and that demand has been pretty steady this week. Frahm is shipping all sizes in yellows and reds, and Trevor said Frahm has finished with whites for the season. Trevor said quality is looking very good. “I really don’t see the market getting any higher,” he said. “To put things in perspective, Mexico is shipping the same volume as Washington, and that’s too many onions.” He added, “You can’t raise the market when you have 30 percent more volume out there. It’s the strong dollar that is driving Mexican imports, and we can put tariffs on the imports, but I am unhappy that U.S. growers have chosen to go into Mexico to develop that import market. It doesn’t help anyone.” Trevor reports that Frahm will be shipping through the end of the month.
Dale DeBerry with AllVeg Sales in Boerne, TX, told us on March 8 his Mexican deal is still in the early stages, and he expects movement to increase within the next week. “I’m moving three to five loads a day, but next week we should get going good,” Dale said. “Quality is good. Prices could be better. But movement and demand are good, and I’m getting more supers than I am mediums. So far the onions have all been big.” Dale said 80 percent of his Mexican volume is in yellows, and he said he’ll have product through April.
Don Ed Holmes at The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on March 8 that the onion market is “feeling like it could be getting better.” He said, “We had the best Monday we’ve had since we started out of Mexico, and we had a good Tuesday and a good Wednesday. And more people are coming in now. We’ve seen the Northeast in looking for smaller onions here. So I’m optimistic about both the short-term and the long-term now.” He said two of the biggest Mexican growers are finishing, and one is just coming in. “I think Mexico could be done between April 1 and 10,” Don Ed said. Volume is good, and he said mid-season varieties are being shipped now. “There’s excellent quality and color,” he said.
California Imperial Valley:
Steve Gill with Gills Onions in Oxnard told us on March 8, “I was in Imperial yesterday, and the crop is looking like it’s on schedule for the April 15 start date. Weather is going to be above normal heat-wise for the area for the next week or so.”
Trish Lovell with Agri-Pack in Pasco said the growers had started planting during the week of March 6 and early this week. “I just had a meeting with growers yesterday,” she said on March 8. She said Agri-Pack has some overwintered onions as well, and she said conditions for the crop were largely good. “The snow has mostly melted, but we’ve had a lot of wind,” she said. The region has received some recent rains, and Trish said daytime temps had been warm in the last week. “It’s supposed to get into the 60s next week,” she said.
Paul Skeen, Malheur County Onion Growers Association board president, reported March 8 that IEO planting has started on the southern Idaho portion of the region, and more should start up soon. “As we speak, the winds are coming through the valley, and things are starting to dry up much faster than we had anticipated,” Paul said. “We have seen it happen in the past that the spring and summer weather in the valley can definitely make up for a week or two of delayed planting. We are not at all worried about coming on with new crop on time. No one should ever count us out. We have a long history of consistent harvest timing, and I don’t see that changing this season.”
Steve Baker with Baker Packing in Ontario, OR, said planting will begin soon for his Treasure Valley growers. “Weather permitting, some of our growers could start planting in the next seven to 10 days in some areas,” he said.
Trevor Frahm with Frahm-Fresh in Ontario, OR, told us his planting will begin sometime in April. “We plan on having close to the same program that we did last year, but we may be down a little because our operation may not plant the earlier varieties that we normally do,” Trevor said.
Don Ed Holmes with the Onion House in Weslaco told us that his Texas deal had been delayed by about a week due to rains in the Rio Grande Valley over the weekend of March 4-5. “We think we’ll start blading this weekend or the first part of next week, and we’ll have Texas onions for sale next week,” he said. He noted that the average February temperatures were 9 degrees above normal, which is “pretty odd.”
Dale DeBerry with AllVeg Sales in Boerne, TX, said the Georgia crop is looking good for an April 12 start. “The Vidalia crop is great, and the stands are beautiful,” Dale said on March 8.
Danny Ray with Ray Farms in Glennville, GA, reported on March 8 the ship date for Vidalia has been moved up to April 12, and he said, “We will have to wait and see what the weather gives us in March and early April. If we are able to plow and dry them in time, we can meet that date. But if we can’t, it will be closer to April 17 before we start. First and foremost, we are interested in providing a quality product, and if we need a few extra days to make that happen, that’s what we’ll do.” Danny said the crop is in excellent condition. “As far as I can tell, everybody down here has perfect stands, so it looks like we’re all in great shape for a good season.”