Mike Davis with Tex-Mex Sales, LLC in Weslaco, TX, told us on Feb. 22 that his Mexico sales are going well this week. “We have been moving all colors and sizes,” Mike said. “Reds are a little tight this week, but we expect more reds on Monday, so we should be good to go then. The overall demand has been a little down lately. And the market has softened somewhat because some of the Northwest guys are coming off their pricing. When they do that, buyers get reluctant, and they tend to hold off to see where the market is going. I think maybe some of the Northwest folks are trying to clean up.” He continued, “Now this week, demand is starting to pick back up, and for Tex-Mex, we’re in good shape and we’re rolling right along.” Mike also commented on his Texas crop that he is starting to harvest. “We are starting harvest, and the crop looks very nice,” he said. “We’ll be harvesting half of one field next week and getting those cured, so we are on track for the first part of March start-up.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on Feb. 22 volume out of Mexico has picked up some this week. “Mexico is starting to increase a little, and the market is fairly steady,” he said. “We’re moving all three colors, and we’re seeing good quality.” Don Ed said sizing is good, and he added, “We’re shorter on smaller sizes, which has to do with strong exports to Europe.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on Feb. 22 he continues to move all three colors of Tampico onions. “Movement is some days good and some days draggy, but we’re seeing new destinations for the onions every day,” he said.
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, reported in on Feb. 22. “We are still shipping all three colors and all sizes out of Warden, WA,” he said. “We did our calculations this week, and we expect to go another ten weeks, which puts winding down about mid-April, and though that isn’t, particularly early, that is early for us as seasons go. Buyers are looking for the big stuff this week – colossally and supers. Whites have picked up a little, and medium yellows are a little soft. February is typically a down month, but it has been down for about the last four to six weeks. Though February is typically off, it could be that some shippers ended up having more onions than they thought that they might have, and they are looking to clean up – which is putting pressure on the market. I can’t say if it’s just one area. It seems to me that it’s happening in multiple areas, but I need to say it’s nothing drastic, and it’s not long-term. I think by the first of April everything will get evened out.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum, ID, told us on Feb. 22 that his team is shipping out of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Michigan, and North Dakota. “We have had steady business this week. Buyers are ordering the big stuff, and retail packs are moving pretty well too,” he said. “Quality remains good, with some random lots of hit-and-miss – but I do stress, it’s random. Mexico is coming on with good volume, so we’re moving some new crop too.” Rick added, “Between Mexico and Canada, they pretty much took a cue from last fall on the communicated 20-30 percent projected shortfall of Northwest onions and overplanted. They are coming with plenty of onions. In fact, I can’t get anything on the Northeastern market with Canadians dominating the freight and pricing.” Rick noted on the market, “The market is steady with clean-up deals here and there.” And on transportation, he said it’s better. “Trucks have been easy, so let’s load and go. Don’t forget that we’ve got pearls… come and get ‘em!”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce/Eagle Eye reported in from his sales office in Payette, ID, this week. “Demand is down this week, but as far as where we want to be, that’s good for us because we are managing our supplies right now,” he said. “We’re selling all sizes, so I can’t pinpoint where the demand is lacking because, for us, the demand is fairly spread out.” On the market, Dan noted it is also down. “The market is a little soft as well, and I have really no reason to question that because I follow the USDA Market News, and that’s what they are saying. There is no one specific reason for it. February is typically down, and there are some shippers looking to clean up too.” When asked when his company plans to finish up its Northwest programs, Dan said, “You know, business drives the sales, and we just have to wait and see where that takes us. We have very good quality going in the bag, and we are fortunate that way.”
Paul Reeping with Riverfront Produce in Payette, ID, told us on Feb. 22 that demand differs depending on what buyers are looking for. “We have seen demand for reds pick up quite a bit this week,” he said. “We’ve seen reds tighten up in other areas, and we’ve been able to take advantage of that. Big sizes on yellows are also moving really well. On the market, for smaller yellows, pricing is unstable. Luckily, we have maintained excellent quality, and the cooler weather is cooperating, so we’re in good shape on supplies.” When asked about freight, Paul said, “Trucks aren’t an issue at all.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, told us on Feb. 22, “As we approach our last six weeks of production, we are already getting into our long-term storage varieties in February! We are experiencing the size profile change to mostly jumbo and medium. We actually raised our colossal and super quotes this week because those sizes are going to be extremely tight until the end of the season.” He went on to say, “Speaking of end of the season, some sheds have finished in our area this week with others finishing up in the next few weeks. Our remaining two facilities will finish a month sooner than normal, and yet the pressure on the market from the foreign onions has taken a toll on the returns to our farms and growers. I think the clear message here is that we don’t need foreign onions in our market even when our production is down.” Dwayne continued, “No reason for anyone to invest as much as we do to grow onions and to work as hard as it requires to not make a healthy profit. I still think there is a window coming for an increase.” He said, “Our mountains are getting some major snow this week, which is more than welcome for our irrigation needs this summer. We will be planting before we know it, and then we will see what kind of test Mother Nature puts us through from there on out. If the recent trends are any indication of the future, it could be a wild ride.”
Calipatria, CA/New Mexico:
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, reported in on Feb. 22 saying that his company’s Calipatria deal will be ready to go around April 17. “Everything looks great in there, and in a perfect world, we will finish up in Warden on Friday, April 15, and get going with our Calipatria program on April 17,” he said. “We may even have a couple of days of overlap there if we’re lucky. Our CEO is in Calipatria today, and next time when we visit, we should be able to share photos.” Matt also provided insight on Bakersfield and New Mexico. “Our Bakersfield crop and the New Mexico crop with the Franzoys (Billy the Kid) is coming right along, and we anticipate a normal start-up for both, which is about the same time each year, around June 7.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen told us on Feb. 22 the Rio Grande Valley crop looks good at this point and said he expects it to be “mostly a late March through April and May” deal. In the Eagle Pass area, he said, onions are varying stages of development, with the younger plants “the size of your pinky finger” and the more mature onions with four leaves and about six inches tall. “It’s on time,” he said.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on Feb. 22 weather has been warm, with temps in the 80s and 90s all week. “Some onions I’ve seen are already pre-pack size, and we could see some onions start up mid- to late March.”
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, reported on Feb. 22 that Western Colorado currently has 140-150 percent of normal snowpack after extended drought conditions in the state. He noted that of his Western Slope growers related that recent precip has delayed getting into the fields. David said it looks like planting will be in late March and early April.