Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor told us on Jan. 15 that demand has been “excellent.” He said, “While market pricing remains steady, we have seen a significant increase in demand. Specifically, medium yellow demand has been great. Our quality is good, too.” Doug, who is the new President of the National Onion Association, told us, “We had a few lots early on that were challenging, but we are into great storage onions and quality is very good.” On transportation, Doug reported that there has been no issue there.
Bob Sakata with Sakata Farms in Brighton said on Jan. 15 the season is going very well for that operation. He said movement has been good, and he added, “We should be done shipping the first week of February. It’s been a very good season.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Jan. 15 his Corinne, UT, deal has another two weeks or so to go. “The market is still getting better, up another $1 today,” Don Ed said. “There’s been good demand, and quality is very good. We’re seeing a lot of repeat business.” He noted the Mexican crop had seen some cool weather, which put back the start somewhat. “We could have some very light supplies the week after next,” he said.
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, told us on Jan. 15 that demand for the week has been very good. He said, “Demand has been strong on all sizes and colors, and the market has gone up on all colors from last week.” Baker & Murakami has good availability on all colors and sizes except for medium yellows and medium whites, Steve said. He added, “Quality has been very good.” Transportation “has been very tight all week,” he said, explaining, “We are getting what we need, but it’s taking longer to get the loads covered from previous weeks.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce reported on Jan. 15 from his in Nyssa, OR office to say, “Demand has been very good this week.” He continued, “It’s been pretty even across the board for all colors and sizes. The good thing is that the market has been trending upward as well. This is good news for our growers.” On transportation, Jason said, “This week, trucks have been getting harder and harder to find.”
Idaho-E. Oregon and Washington:
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from his Salem, OR, office on Jan. 15, saying, “Right now, I am shipping out of Idaho and Washington, and I am seeing good demand this week – partially because buyers are still playing catch-up on their orders from the downtime during the holidays, and frankly supplies are a little tight.” John added that the big picture looks positive. “The market is extremely stable right now, and the reason we’re in good shape is that we didn’t try to take the market up too high. So going forward we should continue to see a strong market with room to move upward.” John said demand for jumbo yellows is strong this week. “Looking ahead, I think we’ll see demand and the market for supers picking up as well as whites,” he said. “This is due in part to less availability on supers, and that goes for whites as well. There are going to be fewer whites out there, and it looks like Mexico is going to be a little later to come on with their whites.” John said that the quality of the shipments has been very nice. “I think what buyers may not know is what shippers do to put out a good quality product. This year, there may be more shrink to get that kind of quality out there, and what we might see come March is less availability and shippers holding back some to extend their season. Potentially, this will also contribute to a good spring market.” On the transportation side of things, John said, “I can find the trucks, but they are getting more and more expensive.”
One of our sources in the Pacific Northwest told us on Jan. 15, “The movement in our area has strong demand this week in all colors, and the shift in production and market price seems to be following in line – which is what was hoped for.” He continued, “The trend will probably continue in the yellows, with some encouragement in the reds. Overall production is probably pretty average give or take.” And, he said “The shrink is maybe up a little in some places, with a few trouble spots here and there but overall good.” The upshot, he said, is that “this should lead into a healthier, and stronger market moving forward. Management control seems to be on pace.”
Oregon onion grower and President of the Malheur Co. Onion Growers Association Paul Skeen weighed in this week on behalf of the growers he represents. “It’s been an unusual year for our growers, start to finish,” Paul said of the 2019 crop. “The challenges we faced with a wet spring and low temps during harvest put a lot of stress on our growers, and for some onion lots, it’s taken more time to get through them in order to provide the high-quality produce we are known for.” He continued, “In that regard, we have been pleased to see the recent strength in the onion market. It can’t be stressed enough that higher market prices are not only more desirable but absolutely necessary for growers to stay on top of the new technology and all of the machinery that it takes to grow and produce an onion crop.” And, he added, “The good old days of being able to get by on lower prices are gone. The cost of production goes up every year, and that means the market needs to provide a decent return to our growers in order for the industry to survive. For those that are simply selling with no vested interest, maintaining a strong market might not be a priority, but in order for growers to stay vibrant and producing top-quality produce, it is imperative. We in the Idaho/Oregon growing area are extremely encouraged by the latest bump in the market. Right now, the pipeline could be getting full, which presents an opportunity to use this time wisely. This period could be spent working to get through some of the more challenging lots. It’s important we don’t panic. Let’s keep the market up and continue to strengthen it. The nation’s growers and the industry as a whole will all be better for it.” Paul concluded, “Our annual meeting is Feb. 4 at the Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, OR. At the meeting, Gina Greenway with the College of Idaho will be presenting an informative session on the cost of production.” Again, this year, OnionBusiness.com will provide a recap of Gina’s session following the event.