Featured image: Nowell Borders onion crop progress near Eagle Pass, TX, photo courtesy of David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, reported in on April 26 this week. “We are shipping out of Texas this week and just getting started out of California,” Jason said. “The onion quality has been very good, and we have plenty of availability on reds and yellows. We are a little tight on whites, but as California gets ramped up, we will have more availability there.” He went on to say, “Demand has been good, and the market has been steady. Buyers are looking for jumbo reds and yellows, but medium demand has been good as well.” Jason said truck availability is good. “We have been able to book trucks with no problem. We’ve used flatbeds for some Texas onions, but California has just started, so no flatbeds have been loaded out of Cali yet.”
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported in from his office in Salem, OR, this week. “I’ve been moving onions out of Washington, Texas and California. It looks like I can ship about another two weeks out of Washington,” he said. “Everyone knows that Texas shippers have been working out their weather issues, and California is late by two weeks, and they are starting to trickle in. California had cooler weather, but last week there were some hot days so it looks like they are able to get in there and start clipping, so the volume should start getting much better. But we are seeing what is happening with this global weather pattern, and it has affected these various onion regions. The way demand is going right now, it starts in the morning and buyers work across the country. They start with Texas, Mexico, and Georgia, and if they can’t get what they need there, they move over to the desert, and if that doesn’t work, they go to the Northwest. That’s basically how it’s working with the transition and the lack of supplies right now.” Marketwise, John said, “Prices this week are decent. The market is starting to firm up. We’ll have to see what happens as more volume comes on in California, but the Imperial Valley is a short deal, and they need to get going pretty fast here and get out by around June 10th or so.” John also noted that transportation is good this week. “Right now we are loading more reefers than flatbeds, but we have been able to use flatbeds for some areas.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum, ID, told us on April 26 that demand is good this week. “We are shipping onions from a variety of areas,” Rick said. “The transition is running smoothly, but the rains in Texas are causing a rough go and some Texas guys are done. That’s caused some buyers to move over to Georgia and it’s putting pressure on Cali, which just got started.” He added, “There aren’t a lot of onions out there. There are still a few shippers in the Northwest shipping reds and yellows, but how long that may last depends on availability and demand. Plus, the majority of buyers have switched to new crop.” Rick continued, “We are shipping from Mexico and Arizona too, but again the areas that are just coming on are feeling the pressure, which impacts the market. It’s definitely not a $10 market anymore.” And he said, “The California and Vidalia deliveries have been excellent. There are some very good onions coming out of those areas. It’s just super tight right now.” Rick noted that transportation is going well. “We haven’t had a problem with freight,” he said. “If the grower and receivers are good with it, flatbeds are a go with some lanes that have good weather now too.”
Paul Reeping with Riverfront Produce in Payette, ID, told us on April 26 that his company will be shipping for another week to two weeks. “We are shipping reds and yellows and still pulling out of cold storage,” he said. “The quality remains very good.” He added, “We do have more medium reds on hand than we would like. That said, all sizes seem to be moving well with the shortage of onions out there since California is just getting started and Texas experiencing weather issues. Consequently, we are seeing the market firm up.” Paul noted that transportation is no problem this week. “We aren’t having any problem securing trucks, and when it’s possible, we’ve been able to load flatbeds too.”
Chris Woo reported in on April 26 to say, “Just got done packing Idaho out of cold storage for the season. Quality and market helped finish us up on a positive note.” He said the onion deal “will be transitioning to the California desert next Monday, with new parts of fresh crop Mexico starting up as well.” For Idaho growers, “weather for a while will have sunny, clear and dry conditions, helping us to finish onion planting.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley/Mexico:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on April 27 his company “is towards the end of the deal – we’re close to finished.” Wet weather continues in the RGV, he noted. “It’s just one of those years.” Whites out of Torreón will finish this week, with Chihuahua to start “in about a week.”
Mike Davis with Tex Mex Sales LLC in Weslaco told us on April 26 that his team is selling a few Mexican onions this week. “We are moving Mexican onions, but it’s very limited,” he said. “Our focus now is getting into our Texas fields and harvesting those onions. Obviously, demand exceeds supply right now, but we are working hard to get the onions in and under dryers. We are using burlap bags, and that’s a big plus for us and maintaining high quality. I know of growers around the area who are done, but we’ve been able to stay ahead of the rain. The goal here is to get the onions in, and we should have onions to go another three to four weeks. We are harvesting today, and if the weather cooperates, we plan to be harvesting through Sunday so we can build up supplies for next week.”
Eagle Pass, TX:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen told us on April 24 that the Eagle Pass/Coahuila, Mexico, crop will start shipping soon. “Tops starting to go down on Nowell Borders Farms near Eagle Pass, Texas,” he said. “We expect to be harvesting all three colors week of May 1.” Our thanks to David for great photos this week. Click images to enlarge and scroll.
Lou Getzelman with Canyon Sales Co. on the Hunts Point Market gave us a great update on April 26, saying, “Demand has continued to be pretty good this week, coming off of a good week last week. One of the things we have been talking about since early April was would Tex/Mex be able to cover everyone, and with the rain that they have had it definitely tightened up supply.” Lou noted, “We’re finally starting to see some upward momentum in red onions. Both medium and jumbo red markets responded to the lack of supply this week. I expect most of our partners to be finished in Idaho and Washington by week’s end, and we will probably continue to see prices increase as we fully move new crop.” Lou looked at market conditions, saying “Markets have been trending upwards, and it will be interesting to see what we can get out of California next week and what kind of effect that has. Buyers definitely feel it when supplies are tight. Prices push higher, but my thoughts are still that we’re not operating in a very good business environment so it’s hard for them to stay elevated for long periods of time right now.” And he said “All produce items are for the most part too expensive in grocery stores across the country. I can’t tell those stores how to run their businesses, but we’re never going to move more produce if we can’t find a balance somewhere between Pre-Covid and Post-Covid margins.” Regarding supply, Lou said, “We have finished up in Mexico and Texas and are winding down in Idaho/Washington. By next week we’ll be into California. The transition has gone fairly smooth, but I wouldn’t say it’s been as smooth as it probably has in years past. The market was definitely short at times.” Transportation “remains to be quite a breeze,” Lou commented. “I just hope it lasts and these trucking companies can stay in business. The pendulum tends to swing back violently after sustained periods of really cheap and available trucks.”
New Mexico/Chihuahua, Mexico:
James Johnson with Carzalia Valley Produce in Columbus, NM, told us on April 26 that the Chihuahua start, which had been expected this week, has been delayed. “probably until May 8.” He added, “Things just slowed down this spring it seems.” The New Mexico season is expected to start in late May.
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said his Colorado and Utah growers are “late getting in but close to finishing” planting the 2023 crop. He added, “There probably won’t be any August onions this year” from Colorado and said the season will likely start “right after Labor Day” Utah has a later start for its storage crop.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, told us on April 26 his Delta, CO, growers have finished planting and expect a normal start around Labor Day.
Paul Reeping with Riverfront Produce in Payette, ID, told us on April 26 that his owners are about 40 percent planted. “The weather has been cooperating, and we have been able to get into the fields to plant. We are about 40 percent in and going for it. Looks like more growers in the valley have been able to plant too, so the area is going full steam at this point,” he said.