Featured image: Idaho/Oregon early red onions as of August 12 courtesy of Grant Kitamura with Baker & Murakami Produce Company
Idaho-E. Oregon and Washington:
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce reported to us from his Nyssa, OR, office on Aug. 14, saying, “We are shipping Idaho/Oregon right now and will start with our Washington onions on Monday. We had a couple of days of rain in Washington, which caused a minor delay, but on Monday we will get started there. Out of Idaho-E. Oregon we are shipping all colors and sizes, with the majority of the product is leaning toward jumbos on sizing.” He added, “We are seeing very good quality with our early stuff, and the storage crop in the fields is looking good.” Commenting on the market, Jason said, “Demand early in the week was a little quiet, but things are picking up now. I would say that the market right now is not where it should be, but that has a lot to do with the fact that there are a lot of regions still in the game. That could change when California and New Mexico finish. What I am hearing is California should be winding down toward the end of next week, and New Mexico has another two weeks to go.”
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, said on Aug. 14 that most shippers in the Treasure Valley are either running onions or “at least getting supplies moving in.” Haun Packing started its shipping season on Aug. 5, and Herb said, “Demand is pretty decent, and we’re running full days already. There’s fair demand in the market, and that will pick up when some of the summer areas finish up. It’ll be a little brisker then.” Herb said prices have come down some, “but it’s still good for early onions.” And he said the season has seen a good, normal start with “most of the old crew back.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Distributing in Payette, ID, reported to us on Aug. 14 that Central will start running the morning of Aug. 15. “We have totally redone our line this year,” Dan said. “We are working out the last-minute adjustments, finishing training and all that is necessary to get going, and we will start tomorrow. Out of the gate, we will focus on running yellows, but we have reds and whites ready to run.” Dan added, “By next Monday we will be running full steam. We are getting plenty of inquiries from buyers so demand should be good. We will know about where the market is at once we are shipping all of our stuff next week.”
Mike Smythe provided an update for Telesis Onion Company and their season on August 14. “Telesis Onion will complete packing of onions today. We will ship from the inventory thru next Wednesday to complete contracts. Paul Brooks, the grower for Telesis Onion grew the highest yields we’ve had in over 10 years. It was a great year to pack 1.4+ 50# million bags/boxes equivalents in 71 days. The season started a little late with late rainfall, but the team and Telesis Onion pushed hard to get caught up. We want to thank all of our customers this season. We value all the relationships and customers we have developed over the years.”
John Harris with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Morgan reported on Monday, Aug. 12, that he’d just returned from a working vacation. “I picked a good week to get away from this falling market,” he said, adding, “Here is what I can report that I am seeing and hearing on my end. New Mexico is trying to get finished. They had a great season, and they are ready for a vacation of their own.” John said from his vantage point, “This week will wrap up the rest of any significant volume from that region.” He continued, “Canada and New York have good size yellow onions right now, and the quality is very good out of the gate.” On the other side of the map, “Washington is about to really get things going this week, and yellows, sweets, reds, whites and organics should all be ready to go out of Washington. Pricing is a little sporadic from shed to shed and by color for sure. Everyone has a little different mix on the floor that has to move. Goes without saying there are some deals on everything right now if you can buy load volume.” And, John added, “Quality seems to be pretty good in all places.” In his home state, “Colorado onions are getting going as well in a small way. We have onions for sale here in Fort Morgan.”
Cliff Riner with G&R Farms in Glennville, GA, told us on Aug. 14 the next 10 days will see the last of the Vidalias ship to the operation’s primary customers. “The 2019 season has been a good one,” Cliff said. “It was somewhat stressful, but it worked itself out.” As Vidalia winds down, the Peruvian onions, including certified organics, will start up, and Cliff said they should be running strong in September.
Rick Greener with Ketchum, ID-based Greener Produce answered the phone on Wednesday with a “Buy something!” – an indicator of demand this week. “Frankly, buyers are exercising caution right now with pricing being all over the board,” Rick said. “Honestly, with a market like this, it makes buyers nervous. I think everyone is just looking for the market to stabilize. But it needs to settle out at a decent price without sellers marching down the hill.” He added, “I guess the suspenders didn’t arrive in the mail for some of these folks or they cut them when they received them. I do think there is plenty of opportunity moving forward, and we’ll just have to see what happens when there aren’t as many regions shipping.” Rick said that currently he has onions coming out of California, New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, “And there are also new crop reds starting up out of Michigan.” He said, “And the end of the season California product we are shipping from California growers Thomson and Morada has been just beautiful, which is consistent with the overall stellar season we had in California.” He closed by saying, “On the upside for new crop this week is that larger onions are in very tight supply, and there is a premium on colossals and supers. Basically, if you can find them, you better buy ‘em.”
Grant Kitamura with Baker and Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, weighed in on the status of the Idaho/Oregon crop on Aug. 14. “This year’s crop is in very good shape,” he said. “The early onions are finishing with good quality and size. We have had ideal weather, which has allowed our later onions to catch a second wind – and they are developing very good size and are still growing.” Grant continued, “Barring any unforeseen weather issues, we should have a very smooth harvest, and we anticipate storage harvest to start around Sept. 10. We look forward to a high-quality onion season this year.”
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us Aug. 14 that Colorado’s Western Slope is expecting to start the new crop season between Sept. 4-11, running both yellows and whites at the jump. “All looks good,” Don Ed said of the onions. He’s reported recently that the Corinne, UT, crew will undercut the onions in September, put them in storage and start shipping in October. Both crops are described as looking good this year.