Featured image: Imperial Valley, CA organic onion crop progress, photo courtesy of Mike Smythe with West Valley Packing.
Mike Davis with Tex-Mex Sales, LLC in Weslaco, TX, told us on February 7. “This week’s update is a lot like my last report,” Mike said. “It’s another couple of weeks. We are looking at the third or fourth week in February before we will be going with Mexican product. Our Mexican growers will let us know when they’re ready to start crossing, but right now, we’re waiting.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on February 7 his growers are telling him it will likely be another two weeks before he’ll have Tampico onions. “they’ve got a crop,” Don Ed said. “But it’s just been too cool. They might start lifting in 10 days, but we probably won’t have anything to sell until the end of the month.” Don Ed also cited the high onion market in Mexico, and he said, “Seventy percent of their onions are coming from the U.S. We’re just going to have to see how this all unfolds.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, told us on February 7 he is not seeing any onions crossing from Mexico yet. He said, “The market in Mexico is $8-$10 higher than the U.S.” David noted that while “many but not all of the growers are harvesting,” he added, “We will not see anything out of Mexico until the market in the USA is higher. Those guys are harvesting full speed right now, but it’s not going to come this way when they’re worth $8,000 to $10,000 a load more in Mexico.”
Ken Stewart with Asumendi Produce in Wilder, ID, told us on February 7 that demand is good this week. “We’re seeing a seeing a lot of action this week,” he said. “There’s been good demand for larger onions. Demand is good on colossal and jumbo yellows, and good demand for reds too. Whites are tight, and basically, no one has any available.” On the market, Ken said, “The market remains strong and is edging up. We’re looking at the finish line and working to fill our contract commitments with wrapping up sometime during the first part of March.” Ken went on to say that transportation has been good. “We’ve been able to get the trucks we need at reasonable rates, so there are no issues there.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, told us on February 7, “We’ve been busy, and demand is steady,” Jason said, “Of course, there are no whites, but overall demand is very good. Jumbo and medium yellows are in good demand, and it looks like medium reds are a little tight this week.” Jason commented on the market. “The market is strong, and it continues to inch up, and our growers like that for sure. Quality is still good, and we’re also happy about that.” On transportation, Jason said, “Transportation’s fine. We haven’t had any problems securing trucks.”
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms in Salem, OR, told us on February 7, saying, “We are shipping out of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, and demand is good. There are a few offerings out there from Mexico, but not a lot. Obviously, there aren’t any whites out there, but overall availability is a little funny. On these big growing areas, you have to consider that not every part of a region might have come up short on onions this season. You might find a shipper in Nyssa, Oregon, with extra onions, and then 6 miles away, there might not be any open available. These big players all have a different setup, and no two shippers are alike.” On the market, John said, “The market is solid, and it looks like it could be stabilizing. We don’t know the status of Mexico,” John said. “They have had some weather, and that’s caused some delay in getting them harvested, but there will be onions crossing. If not from one region, then another. We’ll have to see what happens.” John concluded his report with transportation. “Transportation is going well. I am back to getting daily truck broker calls, so that’s a sign that it must be returning to normal.
Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor provided his report on February 7. “Demand is double what the supply is now,” Doug said. “We are very concerned about supplies and working very hard to meet our customer demands. At this point we are looking at finishing 6-8 weeks early.” Doug continued, “Market prices are some of the highest levels we’ve seen for this time of year, and they are still increasing.” On quality, Doug said, “We are so fortunate, our quality has been excellent all season.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce provided his report on February 7. “We are shipping out of Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah,“ Rick said. “I have to tell you, it’s some of the craziest times I’ve seen. Michigan is finishing up with their season and they always have good small reds so that source is going to be out. Northwest shippers are filling contracts the best they can and are selling out mid-week. Mexican onions aren’t available. If you can get quality Mexican onions, you are paying a premium. Then there are whites, and everyone knows the deal there. I guess it’s time to start painting some of these other colors white.” On the market, Rick said, “The market is strong, but with all of these shortages, honestly, I’m so surprised the market isn’t higher.” Finally, Rick commented on freight saying, “Freight is fine. There are plenty of trucks available.”
Brad Sumner with Pacific Coast Trading Co. in Portland provided his report on February 7. “Another thrilling and stressful couple of weeks in the organic onion world,” Brad said. “Only a very few hands have OG whites and price is continuing to rise. Possible OG whites from Mexico into US by the end of next week or sooner, but nothing substantiated. Red inventory will dwindle down next and storage crop reds for most growers will be finished by the end of February, yellows should go well into March but not past it. Mexican Reds and yellows are 1 -2 weeks out, anticipating some crossings.” He continued, “Movement/demand is steady with regular business keeping everybody on their toes. This is a situation in which like leafy green buyers are now looking for organic onions. We are getting inquiries from all over the place. We expect a wild ride through February into March. Chasing to cover bids and regular commitments.” Brad ended his report on transportation, saying “Transportation is the least of our worries, if I find product, I do what need to get it delivered.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Mike Davis with Tex-Mex Sales, LLC in Weslaco, TX told us on Jan. 31, “The crop looks very nice and we’ll start harvesting and get going with our 1015’s in early March and then we’ll roll out reds mid-March and go from there. It looks like we’ll have a very nice crop coming out of Texas this year.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on Feb. 7 that the RGV crop, which was planted late, is “coming along nicely.” He previously said he expects the season to start in late March.
Don Ed Holmes said his 1015 crop is progressing normally for this time of year. “It’s been cool, but next week they’re calling for rain, which is just what the doctor ordered.” Commenting on the dry season, Don Ed said rain would be like a “vitamin B-12 shot, a boost.” Recent winds are typical. “We always get wind pre-front,” Don Ed said of the weather patterns. “It’s no worse than normal.” And he said the season will be staggered behind Mexico.”
Imperial Valley, California:
Mike Smythe provided an Imperial Valley crop report for West Valley Packing on February 7, saying, “Most of California received record rainfall and high winds. In the Imperial Valley, we received 4-5 hours of heavy rain and winds; then it was over.” He continued, “The weather issue here is temperatures are 10 degrees cooler than normal for 10+ days. This area will break 70 degrees next Tuesday. The onion crop is still behind, and we hope the higher temperatures stay for several weeks.” He added, “We are watching the markets, and phones have been active regarding contracts and commitments. We will keep an eye on our crop and the growing areas and be patient before we make decisions.” Many thanks to Mike for sending photos of Imperial Valley organic and conventional onions. Click to enlarge and scroll.
Conventional onion crop progress:
Organic onion crop progress:
Megan Jacobsen with Gills Onions in Oxnard told us on February 7 that the recent heavy rains in the Sunshine State have not damaged Gills 2024 crop. She said, “Lots of rain, but we are ok. It’s free irrigation water from Mother Nature.” Megan added, “It does cause delays for us getting into the field with equipment like the laser weeder, but it has not affected the last few weeks of planting or our growing season.” And, she concluded, “It’s wet but no flooding for us.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, told us on February 7, “Texas has had a little cooler weather lately, but we are looking at some 80-degree weather in the forecast, so the onions will be fine,” Jason said. “Everything is on track a mid-March start-up,” Jason said. “Our California program looks good. The weather there was more on the coast so the crop in the Imperial Valley was unaffected, and we are still looking at a mid-April start.”