Featured image: Tasmania, Hagley Paddock onion field, courtesy of Robert Bell with Western Onion Sales, LLC
Robert Bell with Western Onion Sales in Camarillo told us Dec. 11 that markets were at $6. He said, “We have good Latin American business that will unfortunately end this week due to holidays but will restart in January.” Robert added, “We have good jumbo bulk bag business for our processing customers that have been averaging 20-30 loads a week.” And, he noted, “We have not been contacted by our sweet onion producers in South America, and so at this time we don’t see an upward trend since historically we’re approached when growers anticipate a good U.S. market.”
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, told us Dec. 11, “Demand has been great. Some people in the Treasure Valley have been sold out all week, and it won’t take long for them to be sold out next week.” He said demand has been evenly distributed in sizes and colors, noting, “Medium yellow prices are maybe a little stronger, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see a $1 jump between now and the first of the year on yellows.” Transportation, he said, has been adequate although tighter. And Herb said all fall field work has been finished, and growers are looking forward to getting back into the fields in late February and early March, weather permitting.
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, told us Dec. 11 that prices were seeing an uptick. “The steady march upward on prices has arrived,” Dwayne said. “From lows of the last few weeks until now we are seeing strength of $1 a bag on yellows and reds, and $3 to $4 on whites.” He continued, “This is just the start of a small snowball that is about to start rolling down a hill and building at a steady rate. Growers, including myself, are done selling this crop at a loss and now are in a strong position to move this price. Why or how we allowed the price to get to the lows that we have seen I am not sure, but onward and upward now.” Dwayne added, “We are looking forward to marketing our crop the next few months and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! “
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Dec. 11 movement is good out of Corinne, UT. “The markets have a stronger tone for both whites and yellows,” he said, adding, “We’re running out of Utah, and we’re in good onions, enjoying business and moving right along.”
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, told us on Dec. 11 the final loads for the Western Slope’s 2019 season were being shipped this week. The season was shorter due to a late spring and October freeze. Quality of the onions shipped was very good, he said, adding, “We’re done in Colorado. The last few loads are going out today and tomorrow, and we’re between 150-175 loads short of an average year.”
Ray Kniss with Sakata Farms in Brighton said on Dec. 11, “Demand has been really good.” Sakata Farms, he added, was spared hail damage that affected some parts of the state, and he noted, “We have a very good crop, with the onions sizing 70-80 percent jumbos.” Ray said demand recently has been higher for mediums. Sakata finished shipping its reds and whites, and Ray said the yellows will ship through mid-February, a normal year. Most loads are in the High Plains corridor from Colorado down to Texas, he added.
John Harris with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Morgan reported in on the market and also on the National Onion Association Winter Convention held in Naples, FL, last week. On Monday, Dec. 9, he said, “I am back in my Colorado office after 5 sunshine filled days at the NOA winter convention in Naples Florida. It was a really great convention this year. It was a smaller group with just under 150 members in attendance as compared to the 400 members that attended the meeting in Maui last year. The weather and the company were great as always. I have made so many friendships throughout my years as a member attending these meetings and am always so happy I went after the meeting is over.” John also shared the crop report presented at the event, saying, “We have roughly 51,000,000 bags left in storage at the moment when taking shrink into account. Shrink is always included in this figure; so don’t overthink that too much. For comparison, last year at this time we had roughly 53,000,000 bags on hand. One thing to keep in mind while thinking about this figure is that Mexico has a big crop coming and Canada and Holland both have large crops this year.” He added reports indicate Mexico will have a lot of whites to bring to market by late January. Here are a few photos John sent of his visit to NOA.
Jason Vee with Vee’s Marketing in Superior, WI, reported in on Dec. 11. He said, “Movement is good. Quality is good. Markets are average. And there is not much to report about on-hand storages either. That’s our current state of the onion address. It’s not very spicy. Let’s look ahead at what to expect for the next few weeks.” Jason continued, “Next week is our last full week of production before the holidays. Then we have two consecutive weeks over Christmas and New Year’s where we will have two or three days of production instead of five or six. I call it an artificial supply reduction. It’s artificial because we still have four or five months of onion supply indoors. But historically, demand does exceed for those two weeks. I’m not bold enough to stay markets will go up on any color, but I’m confident they don’t go down.” He added, “I always have reservations about raising the market because of limited production over Christmas and New Year’s, because on the back side of that is January. January is garbage. So, we increase markets because we can’t keep up on the holiday schedule. And then it’s usually difficult to hold those increases because January is garbage. I get a little flack about that assessment because I’m a broker. That’s fair. I can accept that maybe I’d see it differently if I had my own onions in storage. But am I wrong?”
Robert Bell with Western Onion Sales in Camarillo said on Dec. 11 all the early onions are in the ground and up in both the Imperial and Central Valleys. He said. “So far, so good. The stands all look good, and we’ve been having some nice rain – above normal locally.” Intermediates will go in starting this month, and planting will continue during January and into February. “We hardly ever stop in California,” he said.
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on Dec. 11 the Rio Grande Valley crop “looks beautiful and is right on schedule for the spring deal.” The onions have gone dormant, he said, but will start growing again in early February.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission said the Rio Grande Valley and Winter Garden onions are all in the ground and up. Acreage is down in both regions, he said, noting it’s about 10 percent lower in the Rio Grande Valley. “The Valley is on time and will start between March 15 and 20 and go through mid-May. Winter Garden will start mid-May and go through June 10-15.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Dec. 11 the Tampico area crop is “doing really well” and will probably start shipping the last week in January, with sweets running first. “The Mexico crop could be off 20 percent,” Don Ed said, noting that acreage has been cut and the deal is in fewer hands.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, said his Tampico growers say the crop is “coming along nicely,” and he said in general the transplants are expected to yield 75-80 of what’s considered a normal crop. “That could mean better size and yields,” he said. The onions will start shipping in late January with the earlier sweets and move into the full mix by early February. “Tampico will run to the end of March,” he said.