Featured image: Colorado/Western Slope crop progress, photo courtesy of Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX
Tiffany Cruickshank with Onions 52 reported in from her Eastern Oregon sales office this week. “We are looking forward to harvest in the Idaho-Eastern Oregon region and anticipate product to be available toward the end of August or beginning of September,” Tiffany said. “The crop is variable – as is expected with the cold and windy spring coupled with summer heat waves. Overall, sizing is likely to be down from what we consider a “normal” IEO crop, but many fields are still standing and there is time to bulb up a bit more.” She continued, “As for the market, whites and yellows have been very active and I anticipate that trend will continue. Onions 52 has been packing in Washington for a few weeks now and we have all colors, sweets, and organics available.” Many thanks to Tiffany for recent photos of the Onions 52 team with Hartley and Frahm family growers. Click images to enlarge and scroll.
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, told us on Aug. 17 that his company is one of two Idaho/Oregon shippers that he knows of up and going this week. “We started shipping yesterday,” he said. “As far as I know, we are one of two shippers going this week. As you would expect, demand is very good, and customers are anxious to get going on new crop.” He continued, “On our Washington stuff, we’ve been going for a few weeks now, and we can barely keep up with demand there. As far as our Eastern Oregon transition, we have had a couple of minor bumps with a little rain last week, but that’s getting all worked out this week. As we all know, when it comes to Mother Nature, nothing is ever seamless. For the Eastern Oregon onions shipping right now, we have all colors, but we are limited on colossal and super yellows. We’ll have to see as we get further into harvest how much the volume on those larger sizes picks up. Quality has been very good.” Jason said the market remains stable. “Well, with one or two shippers going, USDA doesn’t show a market for Idaho E. Oregon, but we are happy the market remains stable as we transition,” Jason said.
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from his office in Salem, OR, on Aug. 17. “Demand is pretty decent this week,” he said. “We are selling out of California and Washington, and California will be pretty much cleaned up with the exception of a shipper or two by the end of next week. Buyers are pulling onions out of both areas right now, depending on where the trucks are, and quality is looking great out of both areas. We really haven’t had any issues to speak of all summer long. It’s been great!” John continued, “This week buyers are focusing on jumbo yellows and whites. There aren’t a lot of whites out there, but you can find them if you need them.” He added that the market is steady, saying, “The market is good right now and holding steady. That shouldn’t change too much. As shippers in the Northwest come on, we’ll have more onions, but then again kids will be back in school, and families will start eating at home and consuming more onions – so it should all offset.” On transportation, John said it’s been easy to get trucks. “If the trillion truck brokers calling every day is an indicator, you shouldn’t have a problem getting all the trucks you need.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum, ID, provided his “free-range report” from the lake beaches of McCall, ID, this week. “We are wrapping up California and selling out of the Northwest now,” he said. “There are Northwest shippers coming on about every three to five days now. Truthfully, this has been the best transition I have ever seen. With California wrapping up a little early and the Northwest, in particular Idaho-Oregon, starting up late, it has made for a smooth transition market-wise, and it looks like we won’t have to see prices slide this year, which is great.” Rick continued, “Demand has been a little slow this week, but nothing major. When looking for colors and sizes, whites are super tight and super expensive, so be prepared. Plan ahead for yellows. There isn’t a lot of volume out there and not a lot of larger sizes. On reds, come and get ‘em! Keep in mind these are early onions. Some have developed skin, but earlies are still a summer-type onion, and they can be bald – so no surprises.” He said, “Transportation has been decent, and because we are getting a lot of calls offering up trucks, that tells me freight is getting soft, so we are in a good spot there for now. We’re still shipping pearls, shallots, and Cipollinis out of Idaho, and that’s going well.”
Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms said on Aug. 17 harvest had wrapped up the previous week, and the last loads of the Walla Walla season would mostly likely go out this week. “We’ll probably finish up shipping this week, and we’re getting ready to start planting again the first week of September,” he said.” Michael said the season was overall good, noting, “We’re grateful for the market and the movement. I do wish the weather had cooperated better, especially early during harvest, but we got through what we needed to get through, and we’re grateful it was what it was.” He said prices were good, but he said, “Inflation got us in inventory, labor and packing more than we expected.” He cited fuel, saying that one might think that hand-topping onions would lessen the need for fuel. But he added, “When it goes from $2 to $6, that’s a significant expense.” He also said that Washington’s $14.49/hour minimum wage has been a factor – and he said he pays for piece work, which is “far, far above minimum wage.” He added, “And overtime kicked in this year.” Still, he said, demand was good, and his Rosé Walla Walla Sweets saw some new markets in 2022. “The Rosés went over very well,” he said.
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on Aug. 17, “Western Slope growers are set for a traditional Labor Day start, with everything going normally.” He said some onions might be harvested a few days earlier than that, but he said nothing would be shipped until Labor Day
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on Aug. 17 his Colorado growers are also still looking at a Labor Day start to the 2022 season. He said, “They have a red field that’s done, with 10 days to two weeks to run. Yellows and whites are right behind them.” Our thanks to Don Ed for great photos this week.