Feature image: Eagle Pass, TX onions, “Biggest to littlest yellows” courtesy of David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX
Danny Ray with Ray Farms Inc. reported from the field on April 28. “We are plowing reds today,” he said. “We will harvest by the end of the week and should start shipping next week. We are hand-harvesting these reds. We tried machine harvesting some last year, but we’ve found it’s better to hand-harvest our reds. Help has been tough to get, so the whole family is working in the fields. We’re excited to get these reds in because reds are in good demand and we’re hearing prices are fairly good too.” Danny said the Vidalia start went well. “Thank the Lord. Everything went smoothly for our start-up. Our quality is excellent, and demand has been steady. Pricing has been good. Of course, we always say it could be better, but we can’t complain,” he said. Many thanks to Danny for sending photos of his reds he took while plowing on April 28.
Heidi McIntyre with McIntyre Marketing told us that G&R Farms in Glennville, GA, is having a good season. “The Vidalia crop quality is excellent, and demand is high.” G&R introduced a new bag design recently as part of the company’s rebranding, and she said, “Retailers really like the new packaging. Previously, G&R Farms had seasonal packaging with designs that weren’t consistent. Now they will have a consistent, year-round brand in-store which will be key for consumer recognition.”
Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor told us on April 28 that business has slowed up. “Demand is has slowed up some this week,” he said. “There are a lot of onions out there and a lot of regions going. With demand off, it has had somewhat of an impact on the market, too.” He continued, “Right now, we are moving medium and jumbo yellows, and we want everyone to remember that the quality is terrific because they are all coming out of cold storage.”
Idaho-E. Oregon/ California Imperial Valley/Washington:
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce reported in on April 28 from his Nyssa, OR, office this week, saying that Idaho-E. Oregon and Washington are winding down as California kicks off. “We started this week in California and are shipping all three colors. Demand is good on all sizes and colors.” And he added, “The market needs to be up.” In Washington, he said, shipments of reds and yellows will continue through another 10 days to two weeks. “Quality here and in all our areas is excellent,” he said. And Idaho-E. Oregon will be shipping until the end of this week with reds and yellows, very tight on reds.” He said the last loads of the season are going to program business. Jason said the 2021-22 crop has been planted in each of Eagle Eye’s onion production areas, and he said Idaho-E. Oregon is looking at a normal start, with volume increasing significantly for the company this year through its new partnership with Central Produce Distributors in Payette, ID.
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum said that demand is good this week. “Demand seems to be better than it was two weeks ago,” he said. “We are moving onions from four regions – Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Mexico (through Arizona), and California. Quality from all four regions has been very good. California is just getting started, so we’re seeing mostly yellows, with a few reds and whites are starting up. The onions are typical for a start-up with papery skins and somewhat bald, but they are summer onions, so that’s to be expected. But the quality is very good.” He continued, “The old crop coming from the Northwest quality continues to be very good and has held up really well right up to the end here. As we all know, this is the time of transition, so it impacts the market. Some shippers in the Northwest are finishing up, some are going for another four weeks and some go year-round with overwinters and transplants. It gets pretty tricky with freight and what buyers’ preferences are drives orders. There are spot buys out there, and if you can find a freight deal, you can get the buyer what they want from where they want it. It’s hit and miss.” Rick added, “So after saying all that, I would say the market is stable. Keep in mind, New Mexico starts up in four weeks, so factor that in too.” He also shared a recent text exchange he had with a freight service that demonstrates just how rough it is for everyone when it comes to securing reliable transportation. Thanks for the reminder, Rick.
Texas Rio Grande Valley/Mexico:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on April 28 his Rio Grande Valley deal has a couple of more weeks to go. “Quality is really good,” he said. “Demand is fair. Last week shipments were heavy, and it’s eased up this week, but we expect it to pick up again.” About the onions from Torreón, Mexico, he said there has been a bit of a skip, and he added, “Whites will ship again next week, and we’ll be totally Mexico from early May to late June,” with Chihuahua starting on May 5 with reds, whites and yellows.
Texas Rio Grande Valley/Eagle Pass:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on April 28 the Rio Grande Valley continues to ship all three colors and will go “another couple of weeks.” He said the weather has been mostly mild, and quality is good with no issues. “Transportation is a booger, and labor and freight continue to be at the forefront of every discussion. Both are in short supply.” David added that demand and pricing are “steady at best.” In the Eagle Pass deal, Quemado, TX, onions will start in “two weeks, hopefully.” He said, “We will be shipping all three colors from the start, with yellows and reds from the U.S. side and whites from the Mexico side.” Thanks to David for photos of the Quemado, TX, crop shown here and in this week’s feature image.
We caught up with John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms working hard at Troy Caston Farms on April 28, getting up and going with Troy’s Imperial Valley crop. “Monday night we made some adjustments to the line, and last night we put in a full eight hours of packing, and things ran smoothly packing yellows,” John said. “On Friday and Saturday nights, we will fire up the 3- and 5-pound baggers. We will be adding reds and whites then, too.” He continued, “Out of the gate, demand has been good. We’ve had to fight with the Northwest and Texas, but I think we can all play fair. We have a good crop. We are a little lower on acres, but we have excellent quality, and our size profile is a little larger this year. So, I think we are in good shape for the season.” Thanks to John for sending photos of Troy’s yellow onions taken on April 28.
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on April 28 Western Colorado’s crop is “rolling along,” and the growers look for the traditional late August harvest. Corinne, UT, is also in the ground and will be harvested in the early fall, with shipments to start in October.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, told us on April 28 his Delta, CO, growers are “right on schedule” with their crops. “I haven’t gotten any reports on bad weather,” he said, adding the Western Slope onions will come off in late August.
Grant Kitamura with Baker and Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, provided us with comments on the Idaho-Oregon crop this week. “The crop was planted in a timely fashion this year, in March and April, and it seems to be progressing well despite some rough weather we’ve had,” he said. “We’ve had some bouts of wind, and it’s been dry, which has caused a few fields to lose stands. And some fields have needed to be replanted.” Grant continued, “However, it remains to be seen if there will be any impact on yields. You can have 100 percent yield with a 90 percent stand, and we grow big onions here, so that can also leave more room to grow. We’ll just have to see how the summer plays out.” Thanks to Grant for a sending photo of the Namba Farm, farmed by Kitamura Farms near Ontario, OR taken on April 28.