Trent Falkner with L&M Companies reported from L&M’s Imperial Valley sales office in Calipatria on April 25, telling us, “We will be going full steam on yellows today. Up until today, it’s been really slow. We spent the early part of the week getting crews up to speed and making adjustments to our equipment.” Trent continued, “We’re very happy with how the packouts are looking now, so we will be running reds for mixers today. By the end of the week, we will be going full steam on all colors and sizes.” He said the market is better for larger sizes. “There is still some small stuff coming out of Texas, and the market is better on larger sizes. Luckily, we’re not making a ton of the mediums.” Trent said L&M Companies will be shipping out of the Imperial Valley for the next five to six weeks.
Bob Meek with Onions 52 told us April 25 onions will ship out of Washington for another few weeks, with loads also shipping out of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Mexico is finished, he said.
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, told us on April 25 that demand has slowed down this week. “With Imperial Valley ramping up and Texas and Vidalia going, we are starting to see certain customers making the switch to new crop,” Steve said. “We still have a customer base that wants to stay with us. It is easier for them to get most everything they need with one pick-up.” He added that there is stronger demand on larger sized yellows than on mediums. “The market has been steady so far this week,” Steve told us. “I don’t expect things to change much the rest of the week.” He said Baker & Murakami has good availability on yellows, and reds are tight. “The quality has been very good. Everything we are running is coming out of cold storage.”
Trent Falkner with L&M Companies based in Raleigh, NC, said that things are wrapping up in the Treasure Valley. “Most of our customers are looking for new crop,” he told us April 25. “They are making the switch to California, so for us we have pretty much concluded our season for IEO.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on April 25 his Mexico deal had cleaned up and the Rio Grande Valley is “probably a little more than half done.” He said, “Mexico was a good deal overall.” Demand and movement has picked up this week, he said, adding that loads were between 120 and 150 per day. Don Ed said the first of the month “is always a good time,” and he said spring generally brings better movement as barbecue season hits the Northeast and the rest of the country. Although winter didn’t want to loosen its hold on the Northeast, Don Ed said the onion market is on the upswing.
Bob Meek with Onions 52 in Syracuse, UT, told us O52 will be shipping another 10 days to two weeks out of the Rio Grande Valley and then will move up to Quemado near Eagle Pass. “We’re shipping all sizes and colors now,” he said. “And we’ll have a strong month in Eagle Pass.”
John Shuman with Shuman Produce in Reidsville told us at the start of the shipping season that this year’s early yields “look good with excellent quality so far.” John added, “We expect yields to drop as we get into the mid- and late-season varieties.” He said quality is very good fresh season availability to be normal, and John noted, “Demand to start the season is very strong.”
Jason Vee with Vee’s Marketing in Lake Nebagamon, WI, told us on April 25, that he’s getting onions from several areas. “Spanning from Washington to California, Texas, and Georgia, I’m pretty well covering the map for my onion needs right now. I’m loading a little bit of storage crop, but only for small, specific regions where it makes sense.” Jason added, “I loaded my first Vidalia carton sweets on Monday this week. That demand seems off, at least for me. I notice that the customers located long distances from Georgia are concerned about the freight investment. I normally would have written more ads and commitments for that by now. Maybe it’s just a slow start.” And he said, “Of course, I’m loading in South Texas.” Conditions have been steady. “Price has been mostly consistent,” he said. “Quality has been good overall. However, I recently had some of my first quality issues on arrival with Mexican product. This can be a difficult time to navigate that district. Scott Vee would tell me that as soon as Texas product becomes available, leave Mexico behind because their quality deteriorates. I’ve found that to be more about recognizing trends than it is a hard, fast rule. Right now, Mexican product can exceed the quality of early Texas product, and vice versa. But when I’ve recognized that trend and the district is shot, then it’s time to move on. For now, my flagged arrivals are a blip, and Mexican product is still good to go.”
Bob Sakata with Sakata Farms in Brighton reported on April 24 that the strong winds that whipped through Colorado the week of April 16 took a big toll on the newly planted 2018 crop. “It’s been the most challenging spring,” Bob said. “The winds were almost like a hurricane and took nearly 300 acres of onions.” He said son Robert is looking to replant during the current window, adding, “That’s farming for you.” The winds fanned more than a dozen wildfires across the state, causing some injuries and extensive property loss. Bob said his home suffered the loss of a large deck.
Trent Falkner with L&M Companies in Raleigh, NC, told us on April 25 the New Mexico crop is coming along nicely. “We have a ways to go on growing, but things are looking really good,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of onions for about a three-month run, and we should get started on June 6 or 7 if all things go according to plan,” Trent said.
Bob Meek with Onions 52 said the Carzalia Valley Produce crop at Columbus is progressing well, and clipping will start May 21. He said volume will hit the end of May, and the season will run through mid-August.
Paul Reeping with PR Sales reported on April 25 from his sales office in Litchfield, AZ. “We will start running next Monday,” he said. “We will be at full steam by the end of the week. This year, we had excellent weather, so the onions are in great shape and have a large size profile.” Paul said the yellow onion crop will run for about six weeks. “We have a large volume of colossals and supers,” he noted. “And we’re happy to report we have absolutely zero weather issues this season.”
Grant Kitamura with Baker & Murakami Produce Company in Ontario OR, told us that all the Treasure Valley onions are in the ground. “All plantings were completed in a timely manner,” he said. “The ground was very mellow for planting, which will contribute to a favorable growing season. Right now the onions are getting their first drink of water, and everyone is out irrigating. The weather is nice, and temps are expected to climb into the 80s this week, so the onions should really start taking off.”
Featured Image: Imperial Valley 2018 onions, courtesy of Robert Bell with Western Onion Sales in Camarillo, CA. View more images of harvest onions, and labels below, and watch the most recent harvest video HERE!