Featured Image: Imperial Valley, CA crop as of January 27, 2018. Courtesy of Robert Bell with Western Onion Sales.
Stefan Matheny with River Point Farms in Hermiston told us Jan. 31 that demand is somewhat quiet this week. “Historically, demand dips around this time of year,” Stefan said. “So it is not unusual that demand is a little slow right now. But we are staying busy with our regular customers.” He said River Point Farms’ supplies will carry them through the storage crop season. “We expect that we will have adequate supplies to carry us through the month of May and into the first part of June,” Stefan said. “Our quality has been very good, and with what we have in storage that quality should maintain nicely through the balance of the season.” Stefan commented that the market is steady. “Even with a little lighter demand this week, our pricing has held and remained steady.”
Bob Meek with Onions 52 in Syracuse, UT, was on the fly Jan. 31 but provided us with an update that noted, “Sales in our [production/shipping] areas are steady.” Bob said there hasn’t been the “great demand we had during the holidays, but for this time of year, we are seeing comparable business.” He added, “All colors are moving out of our NW operations,” and he said the tearless Sunions are “going well with penetration into various retailers.” Sunions have seen “good reception,” and Bob said, “Media impressions have been off the charts.”
Chris Woo with Baker & Murakami Produce and Potandon Produce in Ontario, OR, reported on Jan. 31 that demand has slowed up some this week. “We were extremely busy last week with customers stocking up for Super Bowl weekend,” Chris said. “Onions are in high demand for Super Bowl because they are used for salsa and guacamole. Basically customers ordered quite a bit last week so they have what they need right now. It should pick up again soon.” Chris said transportation has gotten better, noting, “We are being offered more trucks at better rates this week, which is encouraging.” He said Baker & Murakami has an adequate supply of yellows and reds. “We are good on jumbos and other sizes in yellows and reds, but we are getting tight on whites.” He said quality continues to be excellent. “The onions are storing well and the quality should be very good through the end of our season.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onions Growers in Mission, TX, told us Jan. 31, “Tampico was a little slower to get started because of the cold temps a few weeks ago. Those of us that ship from the northern districts are starting to get a few loads in now.” David said the mix is “approximately 50-50 whites & yellows,” and he added, “Currently, between all of us, there are about 20-30 loads/day. That number will grow steadily now. Most of the growth will be in yellows. We might see a few reds next week.”
Mike Davis with Tex-Mex Sales in Weslaco, TX, told us on Jan. 31 that the week’s market was “very slow, but that’s for all produce and not just onions.” Mike said the end of the month was generally slower, and he said, “It’ll get better in about a week.” Tex-Mex has onions out of Mexico currently, and he said, “We’re moving sweets, yellows, whites, and reds. We’ll get really cranked up around Feb. 15.”
Jason Vee with Vee’s Marketing in Lake Nebagamon, WI, weighed in this week on a number of areas and issues. He said Mexico had started up. “I’m loading my first Mexican onions this week in South Texas, starting with 40# carton sweets,” Jason said. “My supply of Peruvian carton sweets abruptly came to a halt last week. So, I probably shut that off a month early. But between Heavenly Sweets in Washington that I’ll carry until the end of March and new crop Mexican product, we have carton sweet business covered.” Jason also looked at north of the border, saying, “I spoke to a few Canadian growers and shippers that are entertaining supplementing their storages with Northwest onions. That’s a good cue that neither those Canadian regions nor the Northwest will go longer than expected with storage crop.” And about transportation, he said, “It took more than a month of volatility, but I’ve finally established a market with my truck supply again. We adjusted rates up around 8 percent and started paying a little more for extra picks and drops. Whether it’s trucks or onions, higher markets work fine for me. The difficulty is establishing those up-trending markets.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission said on Jan. 31, “The Texas crop continues to slowly progress. Cold temps in South Texas shut this crop down for a while. Most of what I’ve seen is probably two weeks behind last year’s pace. A lot of this acreage was planted 10-14 days later than usual, so it’s to be expected.” He added, “There are a few early acres down here, but for the most part South Texas is going to be an April crop in my opinion.” He said it will run “late March to early May.”
Mike Davis with Tex-Mex Sales in Weslaco told us Jan. 31, “The Rio Grande Valley crop looks really good. We have had some cold weather, but it hasn’t hurt the onions. Hopefully, the first 1015s will start in early March and ship through May.”
Chris Woo with Baker & Murakami Produce and Potandon Produce in Ontario, OR, told us the company’s growers are preparing to plant. “With this mild weather, we know our growers are getting anxious to get some early onions in the ground,” he said. “What we are hearing is that our growers will maintain the same programs that they had last year.”
Stefan Matheny with River Point Farms in Hermiston said that the company’s overwinterings are coming along nicely. “We have had a mild winter, so the crop is looking really good,” he said on Jan. 31. “We expect we will have a good balance of the growing season and will be ready for harvest in mid-June.” Stefan said River Point’s farm team has begun planning for direct seeded onions. “We are prepping now, and should be ready for planting March 1,” he said. “We will keep the same program we had last year, without any changes.”
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