Steve Gill with Gills Onions in Oxnard reported to us on Aug. 14, “We are currently harvesting our long day onions. Quality is excellent as well as the size, with more than 80 percent coming into our facility as jumbos and up. Our Bakersfield operation will be wrapping up harvest around Sept. 10. King City is up next and should begin harvest around Sept. 15. As far as weather is concerned, it has been extremely hot as well as smoky, with several active California fires. But the weather and air quality conditions have had no effect on our onions and operation. Things are looking great.”
Jon Watson with J.C. Watson Packing Co. in Parma, ID, said that operation started packing Aug. 7, shipping all colors and sizes and running full steam. “We shipped 50 loads our first week, so I would say we’re off to a great start,” Jon said on Aug. 15. “Quality is excellent, and the early onions have great color and good skin.” He said Watson has added a pre-cooling system. “Our ability to cool down the onions is definitely an advantage with the high temps we’ve had in the Valley.” For latest J.C. Watson Packing Co. onion photos, see the gallery listed at the bottom of our report. Courtesy of Robert Bell shot during his recent visit. Watson’s early variety onions are also shown in this week’s feature image.
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Distributors in Payette, ID, reported that operation started shipping Monday, Aug. 13. “Demand has been good this week,” Dan said. “The only hang-up right now is that we need to get the trucks back in here after they have changed up their routes over the summer. When it comes to orders, jumbo yellows seem to be moving well, but really we are getting orders for all colors and sizes. I’ll say this: for the volume we have getting starting, we are moving as many onions as we want to, and that’s a good thing.” He said, “The market is holding steady. We don’t have any complaints there.” And Dan said the quality on early onions is good. “We are optimistic about the season. Of course, it’s early, but we don’t see any reason why the season won’t run smoothly, and we are encouraged as we get going.”
Falon Rufty with Onions 52 in Syracuse, UT, told us that company is shipping its onions out of Washington and Utah now, with New Mexico winding down. She said all colors and sizes are shipping out of Washington, and yellows are shipping out of Utah. Falon told us whites and reds out of Washington are seeing the biggest demand, but she added that “yellow demand is right there with it.” Overall the market is good, she noted. “Properly sized product brings top of the market price. [There is] good demand for Mexico, and we always welcome external buying demand. Buyers are always excited to get to the Northwest.” Falon added that organic demand is also good. “We have consistent demand for our organics from our customers throughout the year, and overall organic demand is good,” she said. “As is normal for this time of the year, we are harvesting more medium organic onions than jumbo organic onions.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum, ID, reported he is winding down with shipments out of New Mexico. “We are finishing with New Mexico and will be shipping out of California for the next two weeks,” he said on Aug. 15. “We are getting great deliveries with our California shipments right now.” Rick said Greener will be transitioning to Idaho, Washington and Oregon. “We’ve already moved a couple of loads out of the Northwest, and the early onions are pretty consistent with what our customers are getting from California, so no surprises there,” he said. He also noted that demand has been fairly even across the board for sizes and colors. “You have to remember these are the ‘dog days’ of summer, and so while the demand isn’t particularly high, pricing has been steady. The Northwest is starting out strong with $7.00 on jumbo yellows, but that will most likely stabilize with more shippers coming on.” When asked about transportation, Rick said, “It’s still tough. You just have to understand that you’re going to have to pay the price to get it done. It’s become the norm.” He went on to say that business for his new company is exceeding expectations. “We have developed some great relationships with shippers,” he said. “And my new salespeople, Lincoln and Susie, have already sold loads themselves.”
Colorado Western Slope:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Aug. 15 Colorado’s Western Slope crop is progressing well. “John Harold is still looking at starting right after Labor Day,” Don Ed said. “The crop looks great. They’ve had good weather, and the onions are sizing well. All systems are go.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us the Corrine, UT, crop is right on schedule. The onions will be harvested and stored until shipping starts in late fall, and Don Ed said, “The Utah boys are happy with the crop. They haven’t reported having any of the real damaging heat other areas have gotten. It all looks good.”
Ken Stewart with Asumendi Produce in Wilder, ID, told us Aug. 15 that company will start harvest after Labor Day and start packing in late September. “The crop looks good,” Ken said. “We’re very optimistic about good quality. There have been high temps the last few weeks, and that might take a little top size off, but overall it looks like an excellent crop this year.” Ken said Asumendi will have all colors and sizes at season’s start.
J.C. Watson Packing Company new crop photo gallery, courtesy of Robert Bell