Trent Faulkner with L&M Companies in Raleigh, NC, reported on July 18 on the Deming, NM, noting demand has been very strong this week. “We have had some ‘rain demand’ this week because we haven’t been able to harvest as much as normal,” Trent said. “This has created a push on demand, particularly on reds. They have been pretty hot this week. Because of the rain, we have been light on availability which will continue until tomorrow, and then we will ramp back up on Friday and Saturday.” Trent said the market is steady. “The market is steady now, but we are watching to see how the additional shipments from California and Washington will impact it,” he said. He added the quality of onions coming out of New Mexico is very good. “The rain hasn’t affected quality at all,” he said. “We haven’t received any hail, so everything we’re shipping looks very good.”
Larry Denke with Agri-Pack in Pasco told us July 18 that overwinters finished up and direct seeded started Monday, July 16. “We’re on our second field now,” Larry said. “The overwinters went pretty good for us, and the direct seeded will ship through mid- to late September. Then we’ll start with storage.” He said the first field of direct seeded yielded a lot of mediums, and he said he’s hearing other shippers are seeing the same size. Larry said Agri-Pack is shipping yellows and reds but no whites. “Freight for whites from Lancaster, CA, which is approximately 900 miles away, was $4,000,” he said. “And that’s from calling for three or four different quotes. That rate made me nervous to bring up whites, but I know some other onion shippers have.” Noting three large Columbia Basin onion sheds will start shipping their new crop in the next two weeks, Larry said, “There are still a lot of onions yet to harvest, and the only relief we’re going to have is if someone else has an issue.” He said the issue would have to be major to really impact the market, and he said, “It’s been the toughest start to a season that I’ve seen starting on the sales desk 13 years ago,” he continued.
California Imperial Valley:
Mike Smythe with Big Country reported from Brawley, noting Big Country is working on acreage for that area for 2019. “We have increased the pricing on contracts for all sizes and colors for 2019 in Brawley and Telesis,” Mike said. “We have been advised by buyers that the difference in pricing for the Pacific NW onions and next year in Brawley has grown too large. We have no choice but to go up due to higher minimum wages and growing costs. Some contracts want to switch when new crop starts in California, and freight costs dictate part of that as well. Even though we contract less than half of our onions, it is an important part of our program.” Weighing in on that point was Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, who said, “I think Mike’s comments are right on. There is a big discrepancy in pricing. I do think our area could see a big reconciliation coming this year. Growers have to make money, and if they don’t, we will see many changes.”
California Five Points:
Mike Smythe with Telesis said the Five Points deal will be finishing around Aug. 20, “with good movement and quality at this facility.” He said pricing is moving up.
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum, ID, reported that demand is good. “Demand for all colors and sizes has been very good this week,” he said. “Shippers are playing catch-up on their contract and program business, so Monday and Tuesday were a bit tight, but availability has started to loosen up.” Rick said he is shipping most loads out of California. “Quality has been ‘hit and miss,’” he said, adding he is loading reefers and delivering very good quality cross-country, including Eastern Canada. Rick said New Mexico could be finishing earlier than expected. “Some shippers may finish early to mid-August, which is good for us because it will make for a smooth transition to the Northwest.” When asked about transportation, he said it continues to be a big issue. “Trucks are tight, and rates are still sky high. Nothing has changed in that regard.”
Trent Faulkner with L&M Companies in Raleigh, NC, told us July 18 L&M’s Kansas crop looks great, adding “We avoided some hail that affected the eastern part of the state, but we are in the west.” Trent said everything is on track for a late August start. “We have a month of growing left, but everything looks to get started at the end of August.”
Ryan Fagerberg with Fagerberg Farms/Fagerberg Produce in Eaton said on July 18 the operation had not started harvest. He said, “The crop seems to be rounding into nice form with cooperative weather of late. Looks like we will begin clipping onions later next week and begin shipping roughly a week into August. Ryan noted the labor situation “has improved with the recent arrival of our H-2A workers,” and he said, “Transportation continues to be tight, but our office staff has done a great job lining trucks up for our upcoming shipping season.”
Colorado Western Slope:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us July 18 that the Western Colorado crop coming from John Harold’s shed in Olathe “still looks really good.” That crop is expected to start shipping after the first of September, Don Ed said.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said the Corinne, UT, crop “is one you dream about.” He said, “The Utah boys at Norman Brothers in Corinne are saying this is one of the best crops they’ve ever had.” The onions are harvested in September and go into storage for a fall start to the shipping season. Many thanks to Don Ed for providing this week’s featured image of the Norman Brothers crop.
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, said his company’s crop “is moving forward very nicely.” Dwayne added, “We are experiencing July heat for sure, but the plants are healthy and are planning start production on Aug. 13. This year our growing season has been what we would term as normal and feel confident that our quality will be outstanding. This should allow us to have a great season that for us should extend well into April/May.” He also said, “Our customers each year are asking us to extend our season, and it appears our quality and additional cold storage capacity will allow us to do that. Mother Nature could always throw us a curve ball, but right now we feel very confident.” Continuing, Dwayne said, “It is always interesting to hear the perspective people have on crops and prices before we ever even get an onion into a bag. As a shipper who sells year round, I remind people that no one provides the service and quality that we do in IEO. Our area has a strong customer following because of performance on our farms and in our facilities. As a person who is paid to represent my sheds and growers, I think that creates a big value and we should market accordingly. I will say with our normal growing year, increased technology and superior performance, we feel confident that our season will be extended on both ends each year.” And, he concluded, “Our customers are ready for us to be back in the market and want to stay with us as long as possible. It is apparent that some of these other growing areas are going to really struggle to be able to compete against us, and there certainly isn’t a need for foreign onions to be in our markets at all. Looking forward to a fantastic 2018 season!”