Featured image: Vidalia, GA crop progress, photo courtesy of Danny Ray with Ray Farms, Inc. in Glennville
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, told us on Feb. 9, “Demand on storage reds is good with very few being available left in storage.” He said the same holds true for white onions, noting, “White and yellow movement is moderate with market pricing remaining steady on all three colors.” And, Chris said he knows of two sheds that have finished packing for the year, adding, “This area will continue to ship for all of February and most of March with very few to go into April.” He said transportation availability and rates have gotten better, and weather-wise, Chris said, “It’s been slowly warming up here, and I see a few tractors moving about with antsy growers driving them.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, reported in on Feb. 9 to say, “Demand has been fair this week, not as brisk as, say, two or three weeks ago. This is normal for this time of year.” He added, “Jumbo reds and medium reds seem to be in the biggest demand. The demand for yellows seems to be equal with all sizes.” Steve said Baker & Murakami “should finish with our whites by the end of this week or first few days of next week.” He continued, “The market has been steady all week across the board on all colors and sizes.” And quality, he said, “has been very good on what we have been running.” Like several other shippers, Steve noted, “Transportation shortages have eased up on trucks this week. Prices are still much higher than last season but down from the December and January highs we saw.” Steve said he knows of one shed in the Treasure Valley that has finished shipping for the season, and he said, “I’m guessing we will see a few more drop out in the next two to three weeks.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, said on Feb. 9, “Well, that escalated quickly! My feelings are when we get to March and April, that will be the common consensus!” He continued, “We have finished and are completely sold out with our Honeyville, UT, production. Is that early? – plenty! We now will just take care of our regular customers until the end of March out of our two Idaho facilities we are running this year. Never have packed a bag this season in the third.” Dwayne added, “Will we make it to April? Not sure about that. Shrinks are continuing to limit the already limited pile. The red market continues to match their blazing color – it’s a hot market and will continue on to a full boil! Yellows are very steady, and when demand comes back in the next couple weeks, I believe there is more to go there as well.” He said, “Spring will be here before we know it and also planting. Plenty dry here, and we need way more snowpack! We will see what Mother Nature has in store. Have I told you how much fun she is to deal with?” And, Dwayne said, “For the rest of our condensed season the market looks to remain strong and even break into escalated ranges. I believe that will transition into the summer deal and remain on very positive levels when we get into the game again come August.” About the growers’ meeting last week, Dwayne said, “At our regional growers meeting last week the economist report on our break-even prices wasn’t shocking to me, but as I have said time and time again, a change in thinking has to occur on what we, as an industry and especially marketers, think is a strong or even good price! On another note, the not-red state of Oregon seems to be marching very quickly towards overtime for their farm workers. Another increased expense, another day in the life of those growers! What is interesting though is whatever our few-miles-away neighbors are forced to do from Salem, it does have consequences here in Idaho as well. Our not-blue legislature in Boise won’t pass overtime laws, but the workers are smart, and just as their minimum wage hikes have hit us, we would be fools to think this wouldn’t also create more costs in labor on our side of the bridge!”
Idaho-E. Oregon and Washington:
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, told us on Feb. 9 that demand has been good this week. “Actually, demand is stronger this week over last,” he said. “Earlier, I think the pipeline was full, and buyers figured out that the market isn’t going down, so they have come to the realization that they had better get what they need when they need it.” Jason continued, “Frankly, the market has seen an increase and is expected to go higher.” He said demand for reds is still very higher, with yellows a close second. “Demand for whites is still fairly low, and reds and yellows are dominating demand right now,” Jason said. He also noted, “While Mexico has started shipping, it hasn’t put any real pressure on the market, and we haven’t noticed any change in demand for Northwest onions.” On transportation, he noted that it’s been a little easier this week. “Rates are still pricey, and that’s not changing, but truck availability has gotten better.” Jason added that Eagle Eye is on track for an April finish. “We still plan to finish in April, and then we’ll transition to California. We might have a small gap, but we should get going in California mid-April.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on Feb. 9 that business was fair. “I think there’s not enough new crop for people to switch in yet,” he said. He added that Mexico’s slower start is expected to be followed by an increase in volume next week, and he said, “In two weeks we should be going good.” He’s shipping yellows and whites out of the Tampico area now, and he said reds will join the lineup in the next two weeks.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on Feb. 9, “It’s a little slow today, but we’ll be back to full speed at the start of next week. Markets and movement are good, and prices are still high.” David said he’s shipping whites and yellows now, and reds will start on Friday. “All the stuff I’ve seen is really nice,” he added. He also said that freight rates have eased up somewhat as well.
Hugo Flores with Fresh Organic King in Mexico told us on Feb. 9, “Our quality is great, the demand is still steady, and the prices are firm.” He added, “Our quality is great, the demand is still steady and the prices are firm. We have clients’ inquiries constantly, and the transport for Mexican onions is not an issue. As the harvest of yellow onions progresses, it shall be well received as the demand, especially on the East Coast, is very good, and the pipeline is ready to receive the Mexican crop.” Hugo added, “Reds are still scarce, and prices are very attractive.” Many thanks to Hugo for sending recent crop photos.
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on Feb. 9, “The S. Texas crop is right on schedule, and we could see some conventional onions March 15-20, with organics coming in the week after.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on Feb. 9 that the Rio Grande Valley crop is looking good, noting he expects a normal start in mid-March.
Danny Ray with Ray Farms LLC in Glennville told us on Feb. 9 that his Vidalia crop is progressing well. “We did slow down a bit because we had a little cold weather,” Danny said. “It’s warming back up this week, and it’s expected to get into the 70s by the end of the week, so the crop is catching back up.” He added, “Everything looks good in the fields, and we don’t see any issues. So far, so good.” Many thanks to Danny for sending crop photos taken on February 9.