Featured image: Mexico crop progress, photo courtesy of Hugo Flores with Fresh Organic King in La Paz
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us on Feb. 23 that demand is better than last week. “Demand has picked up over last week,” he said. “It isn’t as strong as it was in January, but that is to be expected and pretty normal for this time of year.” He continued, “We are out of whites in Warden, but red demand remains extremely high, and demand is high for jumbo yellows as well. The demand for medium yellows has picked up too, which is good.” On the market, Matt said it continues to be strong. “The market continues to be very strong,” he said. “Pricing is good across the board, and everything is clicking right along there.” He said, “Transportation has gotten a little better too. Truck availability seems to have gotten better, and rates a little better too, but I fear it’s only temporary with the rising costs of diesel.” Matt added that L&M’s Warden operation should finish up sometime between April 18-30. “We expect to start up in Calipatria on April 25, so we will either have a week gap or a week overlap with our Warden shipments. We’ll just have to see as we get closer.”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, told us on Feb. 23, “It was 18 this a.m., cold clear and dry. Yesterday’s snowstorm put an early kaboosh on anyone’s thinking of doing tractor work.” He continued, “Market pricing and demand are decent, and quality is a non-issue. With that being said, trucks are easier to come by, and freight rates are more advantageous for both buyer and shipper to continue the flow of onions out of here to the marketplace.” Chris also said a bright spot for the Northwest comes from South of the Border. He said regarding Mexico imports, “The market is very good down there, and so a lot of onions are being used locally. Crossings not plentiful, and cooler weather there hasn’t pushed that many onions our way so far. We haven’t felt supply pressure that we sometimes encounter.”
Dan Phillips with Central/Eagle Eye Produce told us on Feb. 23 that demand is good this week. “We are getting all the business we need for the supplies we have left,” he said. “So far, we aren’t feeling any pressure from Mexico. We know it’s coming, but demand is very good for everything we need. Red demand is still very hot, but honestly, we have demand for all sizes in both red and yellows.” He continued, “The market is still very strong. We are with steady or pushing up, so that’s all very good, and we don’t see that changing.” Dan added that the company’s Idaho-Oregon program is on track for finishing. “We expect to finish sometime in mid-March or thereabout, which was our intended goal, and so we are on track there.” On transportation, Dan said it’s still tough. “It’s been a little easier finding trucks, but the rates continue to be very high, so no real change there.” When asked about planting, Dan said, there are still no set plans. “On Saturday we had 60-degree weather, so I know our growers are getting anxious, but the weather dropped back down, and it’s still cold. So we don’t have any set dates for planting right now.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, gave us a report on Feb. 23, saying “Demand has been fairly steady this week, along the lines of previous weeks’ demand. Demand for jumbo reds is stronger than other items for the week..” He said the market was “steady on yellows as of Wednesday,” adding, “The red market is stronger this week.” Steve also touched on transportation saying, “Transportation availability has been adequate for this week’s business. Hopefully that will continue!” And he said, “We are estimating to be finishing up somewhere in the next five or six weeks.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, told us on Feb. 23, “Mexico’s domestic red market is even higher than ours. Look for the red market to continue to tighten and strengthen as we move into March and April.” He continued, “How many shippers will make it to April, that is the question? We get another couple weeks down the road, and the landscape of shippers still in the game changes drastically.” Dwayne added, “Big stuff with our longer-term varieties gets shorter and shorter. We have seen that already starting this week. That being said, we have raised both of those sizes this week, and that trend will continue as well.” And, he said, “Shrinks continue to take a fair amount of onions off the fresh market. We are now in strict structure mode to try to provide our customers a consistent supply of onions until California starts. We aren’t a shipper that will bring in or put together a foreign supply of onions that competes with our own farms and growers, so we are managing what is left and stretching as far as we can.” He concluded, “With planting only a few weeks away, the snowpacks across the state are more than concerning! Let it snow, let it rain, let it do anything except blow! Our area churches are joining together for a day of fasting and prayer for moisture on Sunday, March 6. We need some divine intervention!”
Mike Davis with Tex Mex Sales LLC in Weslaco, TX, told us on Feb. 23 that demand has been very good this week. “We are shipping Mexican onions, and supplies are tight,” Mike said. “Demand has been good across the board for all sizes and colors, particularly for jumbos. Of course, the market is extremely good on reds, and it has been increased on whites and is moving up on yellows too, but the market is also good for whites and reds in Mexico, and so they are keeping volumes in-country and even a fair amount of yellows are staying there because the Mexican market can buy them cheaper than whites. So the Mexican volumes in the U.S. are tight right now, but we should see more volumes crossing in the next couple of weeks.” On quality, Mike said, “The Mexican onion quality has been excellent.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Feb. 23 demand is good, but crossings are fewer at the border due to good demand in Mexico as well. “There are not enough crossings,” he said. “There’s a ton of demand within Mexico, and a lot of onions are staying down there.” He also said cooler-than-normal weather this year has also slowed the volume. “We’re thinking we’ll have better volume next week with all three colors.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, told us on Feb. 23, “The onion market in Mexico is equal to and in some cases better than the market here.” He said on his end, “Demand exceeds supplies on everything,” and he added he’s shipping all three colors now. Noting that the deal will move south out of the current production region toward Tampico, David added, “Volume will hit as the deal moves into different regions, and that should make a difference. But how much of the volume remains in Mexico and how much comes here remains to be seen.”
Hugo Flores with Fresh Organic King in La Paz, Mexico, told us on Feb. 23, “The crop at Tamaulipas is maintaining very good quality, and we expect this to be even better on the following lots. Our main volume will start soon.” Hugo added, “We had some counter-productive climate conditions in the region that, fortunately, we have been able to sort through without complications.” And, he said, “We expect increasing demand and prices for Mexican onion.” Thanks to Hugo for sharing his latest crop photos.
Imperial Valley, CA:
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us on Feb. 23 that the Calipatria crop is progressing well. “As I commented in my Washington report, we will get started with our Calipatria program on April 25,” he said. “We are two months out, and everything looks good. The stands look nice, and we’ve had good growing weather. We are excited for the season in California.”
Mike Davis with Tex Mex Sales LLC in Weslaco reported in on February 23. “We have had excellent growing weather this season, and we anticipate getting started out of the gate with our Texas 1015s the first week of March. And then we will get going with more volumes of Texas onions sometime between March 16 and the latter part of month. We expect to have a very good season.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said this weekend is forecast to bring cooler weather to the region again, and highs might not get out of the 40s. “It’s a little wetter this year and definitely a little colder,” he said. He said he expects to start in Rio Grande Valley at the end of March or the first week in April.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on Feb. 23 he’s looking at March 15-20 to start his Rio Grande Valley deal. “There will be some guys who will be starting next week in a light way, but by March 15-20 it will be going good.” He noted acreage is down this year in Wintergarden.
Zach Mason with Zach Mason Farms in Fowler told us on Feb. 23 it’s just about that time again – hopefully. He said, “It’s looking like we’re going to be staying dry down here, and if there’s no frost in the ground, we hope start planting onions middle of next week!”
Cliff Riner from G&R Farms in Glennville shared an update on this year’s Vidalia crop, with YouTube Video shot in the organic fields.
“The winter weather hasn’t thrown any unexpected curveballs, and we are happy to report the Vidalia onion crop is growing as expected. The root system looks healthy, the plants continue to grow new leaves and the color and length look good.” He went on to say, “The weather continues to warm up, and the onions will begin to form bulbs by March – just in time for the harvest in April.” Cliff noted that one of the biggest challenges with managing organic Vidalia Onion fields is weed management. He said, “We are happy to report the crop is growing strong and is on track for spring harvest!”