Featured image: Walla Walla, WA onion crop progress, photo courtesy of Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing told us on April 19 that Keystone is shipping out of five regions this week. “If you can believe it, we have onions moving out of five areas,” he said. “It’s a transition month, and that’s how it goes.” Dan continued, “We have good onions coming out of the Northwest, and they are still making good deliveries with no issues. We still have Peru shipping and expect to move those until the last week of the month. Mexico is still going, and we anticipate shipping Mexican product into the second week of May. Then we have Vidalia getting off to a good start last week. Texas is shipping. They came in late and are down on volume but also in the mix.: Dan noted, “Demand this week is steady, and with steady demand we should have a steady market through the rest of spring, so we are in good shape for this transition period.”
Paul Reeping with Riverfront Produce in Payette, ID, told us on April 19 that his company will be shipping for several more weeks. “Depending on demand, we should be shipping another two and half to three more weeks,” Paul said. “Demand has been brisk this week, and buyers are looking for all colors and sizes. We are shipping reds and yellows in all sizes, and so far the weather has been cooperating with the onions we have left in storage. Our quality remains excellent.” When asked about the market this week, Paul said, “The market is continuing upward. We’ll see what happens when California is going full steam, but right now there aren’t a lot of onions out there, so the market is responding to the lack of supplies.” Paul mentioned that transportation is not an issue. “Truck availability is good, and we have no problems with freight.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley/Torreón, Mexico:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on April 19 he was set to start running Rio Grande onions on April 20. “We’ll start tomorrow,” he said, adding, “There are more showers in the forecast for the weekend, and we hope we miss them.” Don Ed said, “The markets are holding, and we’re watching that.” He also said Torreón whites are still moving well. “We’ll have some Torreón yellows next week,” he said.
Steven Shuman with G&R Farms in Glennville said on April 17, start day for the 2023 Vidalia Onion season, “Today is the day. If you haven’t already booked your first loads and planned your promotions for the premium sweet onion of the season, what are you waiting for? Seriously. What are you waiting for, because these onions are some of the most beautiful in years. We’ve been lifting and drying pour first onions for almost two weeks, and our early season quality is excellent with some of the most mild and sweet flavor we’ve had to date. This is good news for consumers waiting for their first taste. Looking ahead, we see mostly clear skies, which looks to be setting us up for good and continued harvest and quality as our mid-season and late season onions continue to mature.” Steve also sent the link to “Cliff Notes” with Cliff Riner, G&R VP of Ag Production//Grower Relations. Enjoy what Cliff has to say about the 2023 Vidalias (with some favorite recipe tips) here:
Brad Sumner with Pacific Coast Trading in Portland told us on April 19 that demand had slowed in recent days. “It’s slower for us than normal,” he said. “The transition between the Northwest and Mexico seems to have pulled some business away for better quality and or pricing.” Brad went on to say that organic reds “are tight as the NW sheds are basically done and Mexico crop has supplies but nothing abundant.” As a result, he said the “red market is higher. Yellows are staying steady with some cheaper deals, and whites are steady.” About the transition to Texas and California, Brad said, “All I have heard about the Texas crop is that rain has affected some of the growers to the extent that some of the crop has been lost. But no confirmation or amount. California crop is in Brawley is set to start next week on April 24.” Quality right now, he said, is good for storage crop – “but no legs.” Brad said, “We are serving smaller orders at more frequent times to help avoid this. The Mexican crop of whites and reds that I have seen have been quite nice.” And Brad said about transportation this week, “Selling a lot of FOB, as trucks are plentiful and customers are saving a little picking up direct. What I do ship myself, trucks are steady and fair priced.”
California, Imperial Valley:
Mike Smythe with West Valley Packing told us on April 19 that West Valley Packing clipped yellow onions on April 18. “We will test lines this Friday,” Mike said. Then we’ll clip reds, whites, and flats this weekend and Monday. We should have all colors available starting on Wednesday. Seeders are not an issue this season and the sizing is a good mix of mediums to super colossal. We will ship all 3 colors of organics onions starting next Wednesday as well.” He continued, “Next week we will get a run of 90 degree plus days which is what we need down here to build some momentum for the season.” Many thanks to Mike for sending latest photos of West Valley’s crop. Click images to enlarge and scroll.
Colorado Western Slope/Corinne, UT:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on April 19 his Olathe, CO, and Utah grower are “close to finishing planting” the 2023 crop. Colorado traditionally starts around Labor Day, with Utah harvested in the fall and shipping later. Both regions experienced a cold, wet planting season, with growers getting into the fields later than normal.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on April 19 that Brent Hines, one of his Colorado growers, has finished planting, and grower Ahlberg Family Farms will start planting Monday, April 24. The Western Slope shipping season is expected to start on time and run through the end of the year.
Texas Eagle Pass:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on April 19 everything he’s hearing indicates this year’s Eagle Pass crop is “huge.” He said, “Onions are planted on both sides of the river – in the U.S. and Mexico – and everybody says it’s a big crop.” Harvest is expected to start around May 5, and David said it will ship through June 10.
Paul Reeping with Riverfront Produce in Payette, ID, told us on April 19 that his owners have been planting. “It’s too wet today to get into the fields,” he said, “but we have been planting and are about 30 percent in so far. We will have the same program we had last year.”
Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms told us on April 19 the last of the transplants went into the ground over the weekend, and now the crop is waiting for warm temps. “It’s been a cooler spring this year,” he said, noting the region has also had consistent windy conditions lately. “We’re waiting for warm weather, and it’s irrigation season, so we’re doing that.” Our thanks to Michael for a great shot of a fall-seeded field of Walla Wallas shown as this week’s featured image.