Featured image: Central Produce Distributors in Payette, ID Instagram shot posted August 11. Check out more great Instagram post photos on our Instragram highlight feature story this week.
Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms told us on Aug. 11 he’d finished harvesting the 2021 Walla Walla Sweets and will ship them though next week, transitioning to the hybrids. “It’s been pretty tough,” Michael said of this year’s crop. “It got hot early in the season.” A bright note has been the Walla Walla Rosés, which he said “did very well, holding up and taking the heat better than the yellows.” He added, “We’re pretty happy with that.” He said heat losses to the Walla Walla Sweets overall could come to 20-30 percent, adding, “When you hit 120F in June, there’s not much you can do. We just keep going to church on Sunday – and we’re still here, and we’re going to farm another day. We do appreciate the support and understanding from our customers.”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, said on Aug. 11 that Owyhee’s California deal in Los Baños will run another 10 days, and “then Idaho here we come!”
New Mexico, Washington:
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us on Aug. 11 that L&M will be finishing up its New Mexico deal next week. “We finished harvest at Billy the Kid’s place yesterday, and we’ll have a fair amount of product to ship from there,” he said. “It looks like we’ll wrap everything up on Aug. 18 and then focus on our Warden, WA, operation at the Jensen farm. We’re shipping yellows from Warden, and the size profile is good. We’re packing a fair amount of colossals and jumbos along with mediums, and we’ll be adding colors by next week.” Matt continued, “The quality has been really nice out of both New Mexico and Washington.” He said demand is light this week. “It may be because buyers are trying to figure out where they want to go with the transition, but demand has been pretty light this week. Pricing is still good, particularly, on the larger stuff. There is a bit of an oversupply on mediums, and so the market’s not super strong there. But overall, things look good moving forward.” When asked about transportation, Matt said, “It’s the same old story. Truck rates are high, and it’s tough, but we’re getting them. I think it’s just one of those things that everyone has to accept. It’s just like pallets. Prices have gone up. Nothing is going to change anytime soon; so we just have to accept it and move on.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Distributors in Payette, ID, told us on Aug. 11 that Central started bringing in onions the previous day. “We just started bringing in yellows yesterday,” he said. “We should start running tomorrow if they are ready. I went down and took a look when they brought them in, and though these first ones look to be on the smaller side, the appearance looks really good. Like everyone in the valley, we knew the early stuff would have a smaller size profile, and we expect that as we get further into harvest, we’ll see sizing get closer to normal, but we’ll just have to see as we go along.” Dan continued, “I will say we’ve been very encouraged by our customers. For the last two weeks, we’ve had customers calling, looking get going with the new crop out of Idaho-Oregon, and we excited to get started.”
Eagle Eye Produce shared news from its Idaho-E. Oregon and Washington crops this week, letting us know harvest has begun in both areas. Jason Pearson commented on the Idaho-E. Oregon crop in an Eagle Eye press release, saying, “Expect the same great quality and increased volume from us this year. Even though Mother Nature has thrown our growers some curveballs, it’s still Game On!” And Eagle Eye growers in Washington are also harvesting that area’s yellow, red and white crops. In the release from Eagle Eye, Joe Ange noted, “We have the people, infrastructure and the onions in place to have a great season in both our Washington and Idaho-E. Oregon regions.” Our thanks to Dallin Klingler for the great harvest photos this week.
California Central Valley:
Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo said on Aug. 11 harvest in Cuyama “is probably two weeks from starting.” He added, “We cut water after Monday on the early varieties. The crops look good.”
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on Aug. 1 his Western Slope deal is coming along. “We took water off the first field last Friday,” he said. “It should be harvested in two weeks, and we’ll start Monday after Labor Day. All looks good.” On his Corinne, UT, deal, Don Ed said, “Utah has the best crop in several years so far.” He said growers are looking at a mid-September harvest, and shipping will start in October.
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on Aug. 11 he’s hearing from his Colorado growers that “the crop is progressing a little faster than normal, and we’re looking at harvest starting Aug. 23 or 24 for all colors.” He added, “Overall the yields look to be higher than normal.”
Zach Mason with Zach Mason Farms in Fowler told us on Aug. 11, “Onions aren’t quite ready but getting very close.” He added, “In a normal year we would be harvesting already, but it goes without saying that this year has been anything but normal. Record rain followed by record heat followed by more record rain. This July was the wettest in Pueblo County history.” And, Zach said, “Then there’s the smoke. Hoping to get going harvesting hard next week — if we don’t all have the Delta variant by then.”
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, reported on Aug. 11 that L&M’s Colorado and Kansas programs will start up next week. “We’ll be starting both our Colorado and Kansas programs,” he said. “We’ve had some great growing conditions this summer, and I think these are some of the best Colorado onions we’ve ever seen. We’ll be running all fresh out of Colorado, and we’ll have fresh and storage onions available from Kansas this season.”