Featured image: Rio Farms California crop progress, photo courtesy of Jose Cardone with Rio Farms, and Megan Jacobsen with Gills Onions
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms provided his report from his Salem, OR, office on April 12. “Demand is good this week,” John said. “I am mostly moving onions out of Washington. Idaho is pretty thin on onions now. Availability out of Washington is still good, and we are able to ship all three colors, although buyers are looking for mostly yellows.” He continued, “I’m not sure how long Washington will go. A lot of it depends on how many we will need to ship to cover demand that buyers need due to the rains in Texas. We are in a good place for it because the quality of Washington shipments continues to be very good.” And John said, “As it turns out, we have more onions to ship out of Washington than originally anticipated.” On the market, John said it’s holding steady. “The market is steady, but there has been talk about an increase,” he said. “That can get a little scary because when there are really big jumps, it can create this false sense of security. Then you see more Mexican onions come across, so it’s a tricky situation, and you have to be careful.” OnionBusiness did ask John about the Imperial Valley starting up next week. “While we do have the desert starting next week, I don’t have a report yet,” he said. “I am headed down next week, and I will have a better idea of what we are dealing with and can comment then.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce Co. gave us his report from his Nyssa, OR, sales office on April 12. “We are still shipping out of our Washington shed and should be for another two or three weeks,” he said. “We have all three colors and sizes available out of Washington. We are shipping yellows and reds out of Texas, and the quality out of both areas is decent. The rain on our Texas grower’s crop has slowed our shipping down some, but we had enough onions in the drying rooms and we’ve been shipping those.” He added, “It looks like we’ll be able to get back in today or tomorrow. So we’ll play catch-up the first of the week, and by the middle of next week, we should be all caught up and back to normal.” On the market, Jason said it’s increasing. “Due to the rain in Texas there is a shortage of onions out there,” he said. “Consequently, the market is coming up, which is good. Freight is looking good too. I am getting numerous calls from brokers daily, which tells me there are plenty of trucks out there.” Jason added that Eagle Eye will get started in the Imperial Valley at the end of next week, and he will have more to report on that new crop then.
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum, ID, told us on April 12 that his team is moving onions out of Idaho, Washington, Oregon, North Dakota and Mexico. “Demand is steady this week,” he said. “However, it has been a weird week. Texas has had 10 days of rain, and the buyers that have switched to new crop for some reason aren’t too interested in switching back. But the storage folks still have nice onions, particularly those that have been coming out of cold storage. And it looks like those folks have another two to four weeks to go.” He said that on demand, “Buyers are looking for mediums and the big stuff; colossal and supers, but there is always jumbo demand.” When asked about the market, Rick said, “Because Texas has had rain and supplies are tight, the market is definitely strengthening.” And he said, “No complaints on freight. It’s been super easy.”
Mike Davis with Tex Mex Sales LLC in Weslaco, TX, told us on April 12 his company is moving Mexico and Texas onions this week. “We are still moving a few onions out of Mexico in all colors and sizes, and we’re shipping our Texas crop in all colors and sizes.” Mike continued, “It’s wet down here, but we were able to get enough onions before the rain to keep them moving and our customers happy, so we are in good shape, and we’ve been busy.” He went on to say, “We anticipate being back in the fields to harvest on Saturday when it dries out, so we can keep the onions moving.” On the market, Mike said it’s increased. “Because of the rain, buyers are scrambling to find onions, so obviously, demand exceeds supply. That has caused the market to go crazy, and it’s made quite a jump recently.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on April 12, “We have some beautiful whites now from Torreón, Mexico, and will have yellows next week out of Texas.” About the Rio Grande Valley, he said, “We’re out until sometime next week. We can’t even get in the field, and there’s more rain in the forecast for the weekend.” But he said his onions are not expected to have significant damage from the weather. “Our saving grace is that those onions are just now ready to come in,” Don Ed said. He added, “Between what’s harvested and what’s lost, I think half the Rio Grande Valley crop is gone.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, told us on April 12 his company is “walking away from our entire Rio Grande Valley crop and starting our Eagle Pass season on May 1.” David added, “We have a very big Eagle Pass crop with good stands on both sides of the river to help with labor.” He said acreage was increased for the Eagle Pass deal this year. And the onion veteran said, “This is the longest gap we’ve had in the springtime in my entire career.”
Cliff Riner with G&R Farms in Glennville told us on April 12, “We’re all ready for the April 17 Vidalia start.” He added, “Once you get to March, you start to get antsy. And then all of a sudden, it’s May! April just seems to go by in a blink.” Cliff said G&R has been shipping a small amount of Georgia sweets, noting, “We finished with Peru yesterday morning and started Georgia sweets yesterday afternoon. It’s just a few.” And about the Vidalias this year, he said, “They look really good. It was a long, hard winter, but quality is very good. We did see a strange finish, though. Some varieties didn’t finish on time.” He explained that fluctuating temperatures caused varieties to “leapfrog.” Cliff said, “We had a freeze at Christmas and 90 degrees in February. The up and down temperatures seem to have affected the momentum of how the onions finished.” He also told us 2023 will see the first commercial production of red sweets, which will start up in early May. The Georgia reds are a flat sweet, he said, and “complement the program much like the organics.” Reds will make up a small part of the overall volume, and organics are also a single-digit percentage but growing. “Our organics Vidalia Sweets are pretty much all pre-pack, and they start in early May. Retailers like to have them through July 4.” Cliff said G&R continues to hand-harvest its Vidalias, although it did install a finish topper in recent months “to be able to machine harvest in the future.” That upgrade, he said, will likely be made in the next 10 years.” Many thanks to Cliff for sending in G&R photos this week. Click images to enlarge and scroll.
California Imperial and Central Valleys:
Megan Jacobsen with Gills Onions in Oxnard sent us great updates and photos of Gills crop progress. “Rio Farms will begin harvest on April 20 in Imperial County. We are looking forward to a fresh, new California crop.” And Megan said on April 5, “We’re planting in King City, California in beautiful weather. These are some of our last fields to plant. Onions will be harvested next October-November and are a part of our storage crop. The photos are courtesy of Jose Cardone with Rio Farms.” Megan added, “The Bakersfield crop is growing nicely! These photos were captured last week. Onions will be harvested mid-to-late summer. These photos are also courtesy of Jose Cardone with Rio Farm.” Our thanks to Gills and to Jose for the awesome shots. Click to enlarge photos and to scroll.
New Mexico/Chihuahua, Mexico:
James Johnson with Carzalia Valley Produce in Columbus, NM, told us on April 12 a cold snap slowed the crop somewhat. “Looks like an April 25 start for Chihuahua,” he said. New Mexico was expected to start up in late May, and David told us this week, “We got cold last week, some areas as low as 23 degrees for a couple of hours. Lots of damage in pecans and fruit trees. Time will tell on seed stems.”
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on April 12 his Colorado and Utah growers are in the early stages of their planting – with Colorado starting late in the season due to weather. Normal start-up is around Labor Day.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said his Colorado growers are planting on a double-time schedule and at this point expect to be finished on time despite their late start. “A normal season start up is anticipated,” David said.