Featured image: Organic Vidalia onion crop photo, courtesy of Cliff Riner with G&R Farms
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing reported from his Walla Walla, WA, office earlier this month, saying, “Movement was great in January after the holidays. If you look at the numbers, we were achieving 10-year maximums on shipments. Now, shippers in the Northwest are going to start assessing where they are to finish the season. Some of this is going to depend on weather and other factors, but there could be some earlier finish.”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, told us on Feb. 5, “We had our annual growers meeting Tuesday. All is well and upbeat.” And as for market conditions, Chris said, “Everyone is back to work after Super Bowl, and everyone is making a good effort on packing and shipping fine quality produce and providing reasonable pricing for all parties involved.” He added, “Demand is fair, and the market is holding steady.” Winter weather continues in the Treasure Valley, he said, noting, “We had a dusting of snow, one to two inches this morning that should melt off by tonight. I think we should be OK for snowpack for water usage during onion growing season.” He said currently it doesn’t look like early planting is in the cards. “We have planted our seeded crop as early as Valentine’s Day, so far it’s not happening.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Distributors Inc. in Payette, ID, told us on Feb. 5 that demand is slightly down this week. “So far, it’s been quiet,” he said. “It’s normal for this time of year, and so we aren’t in any sort of panic mode. For the demand, it seems yellows and reds are doing OK, but whites have fallen off some. This is no problem for us, though, because we have a limited supply of whites, and we are holding off to try and string them out for mixers.” Dan commented that the market remains steady for his operation, and quality is good. “As we’ve commented before, we are working a little harder this year production-wise, but the finished product quality has been good.” He added that transportation has been good as well. “We haven’t had any problems with transportation. We are getting all the trucks we need and due to the lower amount of shipments, the rates have come off a little too,” Dan said.
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, weighed in this week, saying on Feb. 5, “It’s been a crazy busy couple of weeks. We are up to 140 lambs with 140 or so more ewes to lamb, our son Spencer signed to play football at the University of Idaho this fall, lots of basketball games, growers’ meetings, Nancy Pelosi’s tantrum is trending, and we have normal onion movement for this time of year…. all and all it’s an exciting week.” He continued, “What’s important in the world of produce is knowing when business comes and when it is quiet. This week is a more quiet week historically, no question. Knowing that, you keep yourself busy with other stuff, pack slower lots and understand that when customers don’t need onions, they don’t need onions.” Dwayne added, “Lowering prices won’t change their inventory.” And he said, “We had a great growers’ meeting yesterday and were presented numbers that we all knew: costs are up and will continue to rise. Our base and contract prices will have to continue to move up, much like our counterparts in the summer growing regions. Looking long-term. we have held our best lots to be able to provide our customers with excellent product until the end of April, and that remains our goal.” Dwayne concluded, “We anticipate a healthy market all the way through and do not see any reason this deal won’t get even better for everyone involved along the food chain of onions. We appreciate the relationships we have with our customers who are championing a healthy market. They are advocates for our family farms and those of our growers. They understand our costs do matter. When we are healthy, they are healthy.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Feb. 5 the Corinne shed is still shipping and will be cleaning up in another couple of weeks.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Feb. 5 he was hearing “good talk today,” and he added a recent slowdown was giving way to good movement. He said, “I’ve learned that there are times when everybody doesn’t buy, and then everybody buys at the same time,” he said of the slowing and subsequent increase in activity. About Mexico, Don Ed said, “Tamaulipas is coming in with light volume now,” he said. “It seems like people are ready to switch to new crop.” Noting acreage is down this year, Don Ed said volume is also somewhat lighter. Currently, just yellows are coming across, with reds and whites coming in next week, he added.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, said on Feb. 5 that harvest in the Tampico region of Mexico is underway, and he said he would be “in full volume the middle of end of next week” with all three colors at that time. There have been “no surprises” with the crop, and he said as harvesters get into later varieties, yields are normal. “We have been shipping yellows for the last 10 days,” he said. “Demand has been pretty good in our market of Texas and the Southeast. We have also had a little business up the country’s midsection and up the Atlantic Coast.” David said quality is very good, with “the best appearance in several years. Prices are “holding steady and still in double digits,” he said.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing reported from his Walla Walla, WA, office in late January and said that Keystone’s Peru program has gone well. “We have had a great season with our Mayan Sweet,” he said. “We’ve had good volume, and quality has been absolutely excellent! Honestly, we have almost zero issues on quality, and that’s fantastic.” Dan added, “We have a good six to seven weeks left to ship and will have good supplies all of February and into March.”
Cliff Riner with G&R Farms in Glennville, GA, told us on Feb. 5 that operation is packing Peruvian onions daily. He added that the frequency of containers arriving has slowed somewhat.
Cliff Riner with G&R Farms in Glennville told us on Feb. 5 the past couple of days has brought warmer weather after two weeks of cooler temps. “The crop is responding really well,” he said of the Vidalias and Georgia Sweets. Cliff said the region is on track for a normal start, depending on weather over the next two months. “I don’t think it will be later than normal,” he said. “Overall, the stands look very good, and everyone is doing well.” More Vidalia photos below.
Texas and Mexico:
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing reported from his Walla Walla, WA, office. “There is a small number of Mexican onions starting to trickle in, but right now, it’s just a trickle,” Dan said. “We do expect good quality and supplies coming out of Texas and Mexico this season, with a slightly earlier start date than normal.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley/Wintergarden:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission said on Feb. 5 the RGV crop looks good, and he added, “There could be a fair amount of onions harvested between March 2-and 5. We’ve had above-normal temperatures, and it won’t be a late start.” He added, “S. Texas is likely to ship the most onions in March than it ever has.” David also said Wintergarden, which is cooler than the Rio Grande Valley, is still looking at a May 1 start. “Neither place has had any disease or insect pressure,” he said.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on Feb. 5 his Rio Grande Valley crop looks good, and he said the cool weather that day was a good thing to help slow the early crop down. “By Friday it will be back in the 80s,” he said. Don Ed also said that the “normal mid- and late-season varieties are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do” in terms of growth. “They’re on track for a normal time slot,” he said.
California Imperial Valley:
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from the “Desert” this week with a quick update and real-time photos. “Looks like we are slightly behind, but we expect to catch up quickly with the recent nice weather,” he said. “The onions are in great shape, there haven’t been any weather issues, and we expect a very nice crop.” View John’s photos below.