Featured image: Texas Rio Grande Valley crop progress, photo courtesy of David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX
Editor’s note: With some shippers not packing until after the start of the New Year, we have some of our regular contributors away from their desks this week. Our thanks to those who are in and shared their updates with us, and we look forward to connecting with even more folks next week. Happy New Year from OnionBusiness!
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum reported from his rig while passing through Iowa on Dec. 29. Our friend was on his way back to six feet of snow in his driveway and his hometown Sun Valley’s ski slopes from a Christmas holiday he spent with family in the Midwest and Southeast. “Well, freight is so expensive and hard to come by, but I’ve passed so many trucks, somebody must be getting them and paying for them,” he laughed. “Despite a traditionally slow holiday week, we are still moving onions. We’re selling out of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Utah, North Dakota, and Michigan, and the quality has been good. Buyers are looking for the standard fare – a lot of big stuff.” He continued, “The market is strong, and there is no reason to come off now. I have growers that are completely out of reds and whites, and there are some that are finished or will be finishing up soon. That tells me that there isn’t any reason to come off on pricing for sure.” And, he concluded, “As I said, freight is expensive, and you better get out your checkbook and preplan. I can’t stress that enough.”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, told us on Dec. 29 it was snowing, and several inches were expected. “Trucks are non-existent for the orders we do have on the books,” he said. “The market is steady. Some sheds are not packing until the New Year. For us, demand is decent, and if we can locate trucks, we would end up having a good week shipping. We shall see. Happy New Year!”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, said on Dec. 29 the area was receiving some welcome precip. “Let it snow! It is dumping down, and we need it!” Dwayne said. “Our reservoirs are dry, so we will take all we can get!” He continued, “As we approach the New Year, we are excited about what lies ahead. We are now at a place in our season where we are really having to calculate what is left in the storages versus how many days until our next domestic supply of onions is ready in California! This will create some fun as we move forward, no question. We will get to market instead of take orders to get things gone.” Dwayne said, “The FOB market continues to remain steady. While that means the same price to the customer, that is not the case for the grower. Shrinks naturally continue to increase as we move from January to the remainder of our season. That being said growers are now getting less return back to them for their onions than they have since October! As shrinks creep up 10, 15, or even 20 percent since October, that is real money that growers aren’t getting in their checks to pay their record setting expenses.” He went on to say, “At this point with a 10 percent increase of shrink, we need to be 16.50 on a 15.00 jumbo market just to get the grower the same return for their onions! When I see wording like ‘market steady’ this time of year, the first thing that comes to my mind is for who? Certainly not for my farm.” Demand, he said, “is steady, supply will continue to get more limited as we approach the end of our season and it’s time for this market to move. Our customers are expecting it and our growers need it! As far as trucks – their rates certainly aren’t going down.” And, he added, “Happy New Year!”
Idaho-E. Oregon and Washington:
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, told us on Dec. 29 that demand is good this week. “Even though it’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s, we are seeing good demand across the board for all colors and sizes,” Jason said. “Demand for whites has picked up, too. The market remains steady but I need to caution our fellow sales folks out there that may not be seeing the same demand or that may be wanting to get rid of some onions, now would NOT be the time to get weak on the market. There would be no reason to. We need to remain firm on pricing.” As far as trucks go, Jason said it’s been nearly impossible to get them. “Well, you have the holidays, which means a lot of drivers stay home between Christmas and New Year’s,” he said. “Then you add to it the fact that we’re dealing with winter weather, and there are freeway passes that are closed. Basically, we have to be flexible and be prepared to load the truck when it gets here… If it gets here.” He added, “Though we have been able to secure rail cars this week, this lack of trucks is just one more reason we need the new Treasure Valley rail center we’re putting in. It’s really going to help relieve some of this freight headache in Idaho-Oregon.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Dec. 29 his Corinne, UT deal will run through February and is still shipping all three colors.
Tampico, Mexico/Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Dec. 29 the Tampico crop will start shipping light volumes Jan. 15-20. “It’s a good crop with good size,” Don Ed said. “There won’t be any real volume until February.” He said the Rio Grande Valley has been “warm and dry,” and he said, “The onions look to be early.” Don Ed also said acreage is down due to a water shortage.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, told us on Dec. 29 that Tampico is gearing up. He said there will be “a few Mexican onions dribbling across the border, with volume starting to pick up Jan. 15 or 20.”
Our thanks to Don Ed Holmes and David DeBerry for recent photos of the Tampico and Rio Grande Valley crops (Texas Rio Grande Valley as featured image). Don Ed’s photos of Mexico are from Christmas week. David’s Tampico and Rio Grande photos are this week and come courtesy of grower Nowell Borders. Thanks, guys!
Don Ed Holmes’ photos:
David DeBerry’s photos: