Featured image: yellow onions in the field near Ontario, OR photographed August 25 by OnionBusiness.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, told us on Aug. 25 that he is currently moving onions out of Washington and from the Columbia Basin. “We are moving all colors of hybrids and Northwest sweets,” Dan said. “Demand is good this week. In fact, if you look at the numbers, the bulb onion movement has been consistently higher than the 10-year monthly average. We really don’t have much to complain about. And there are some vegetable categories that can’t say that.” He continued, “Right now, the hot item is big yellows. There are plenty of mediums out there and not a lot of the larger stuff, so until the new crop is fully harvested, demand is going to be stronger there. Of course, our sweets have very good demand, and pricing is good as well.” Dan noted, “The hybrid market is normal for August. With the regional transition and it being this early into harvest, pricing is pretty typical. We’ve been pretty happy with the sales, and overall the quality has been good out of the gate. I would say it’s been a good start here in the Northwest.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, told us on Aug. 24, “Record high input costs continue to climb! That is the headline this week for every grower in this country. From drip tape to first aid shed supplies, there is not one cost of doing business today for our farms and packing facilities that isn’t up substantially and heading further north.” He continued, “Labor and transportation are only getting tighter and more expensive. People on the sales desk better sit down with a sharper pencil with their growers and realize the current market can’t sustain the costs we are incurring on the farms, let alone provide any profit, and why should we keep working this hard to push dollars!?” Still, Dwayne said, “Quality for our early onions has been as good as we have ever seen and a lot smaller size as well. Our current demand is exceeding our supplies, and the market is poised to make gains. Add in that two regions are mostly finishing up this week, and that leaves the Northwest in the driver’s seat. It is time to accelerate, like floor it!”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, told us on Aug. 25 that Owyhee is “concentrating on finishing end of the week on our summer dealio in the city of baths, Los Baños, CA. Right now we’re also busy shipping Idaho watermelons.” Chris said that weather in the Treasure Valley “has been moderate where we been having cooler nights and comfortable daytime temps. It’s creating a good attitude and temperament for the startup of this year’s onion harvest.” And, he continued, “Demand and pricing are off to a decent start with the non-storage early varieties.” For the most part, he said, “Growers have finished up watering their storage crop for the year and will dry them down good before picking them up.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Distributors/Eagle Eye Produce in Payette, ID, told us on Aug. 25 that demand has picked up. “Today, demand has really taken off,” he said. “I don’t know what it is – maybe California and New Mexico are really winding down – but today we have been crazy busy! The heavy demand is across the board, too. Orders are coming in for everything I have, all colors and sizes. With this sharp increase in demand, I think there is some good opportunity here for the market to strengthen!” Dan said quality has been good. “We’ve had good quality on our early stuff, with no issues,” he said. “But I will say that transportation continues to be a huge issue. It’s a daily battle to get trucks, and with more shippers coming on and the number of loads increasing, I am very concerned there aren’t going to be enough trucks to go around.” He added, “We are already paying high rates, and who knows what this is going to do to rates. The situation isn’t going to get better anytime soon.”
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said his Colorado deal hasn’t started yet as growers finish their sweet corn for the season. “Onions will follow as additional labor becomes available,” Don Ed said. Traditionally the deal kicks off in late August or early September. He reported that the Corinne, UT, onions this year are “fantastic.” Those onions are harvested in the fall and start shipping in October.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on Aug. 25 he and his Western Colorado growers are “bookin’ and ready to start harvest tomorrow,” Aug. 26. David added he expects packing to start Sept. 1. “The crop looks really good,” he said. “We’re excited to get going, and we have maturity in all three colors so they’ll start pretty close to the same time.” Reds and yellows are sizing 25 percent colossal, 25 percent medium and 50 percent jumbos, and whites are mediums and jumbos. “Yields are good,” David added. “They got some rain earlier in the month that slowed us a few days while we waited for it to dry down.” Thanks to David for photo from Ahlberg Farms/Southwest Onion Growers.
Zach Mason with Zach Mason Farms in Fowler reported on Aug. 25 that harvest is going great guns in the Arkansas Valley. “Onion harvest is in full swing down here,” he said. “Running reds and yellows this week and starting on whites either this weekend or first thing next week.” He continued, “The crop looks fantastic. This heat dome we’re under and have been under for weeks and weeks has pretty well eliminated any humidity so there’s no disease of any kind evident in the crop. Quality just couldn’t be better at this point. Knock on wood with crossed fingers.” Our thanks to Zach for the red harvest photo – cool shot!
Dad Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing reported on the company’s Peru program from his Walla Walla, WA, office on Aug. 25. “Our Peruvian Crop is expected to be very good this year,” he said. “Peru had good growing conditions, and the crop is reportedly in very good condition.” He added, “Most of these first shipments are headed for the East Coast.”