Featured image: Southwest Onion Growers photos courtesy of Nowell Borders
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos in Raleigh, NC, told us on Jan. 22 that things are running smoothly with the L&M operation out in Warden, WA. He said, “The market seems to have leveled off this week, but it’s holding.” Matt added, “For this time of year, we are seeing very good demand too, specifically for yellows and whites. The demand for reds has been steady.” He mentioned that the L&M team recently visited Warden and said, “Trent Faulkner, Derek Ennis and others visited the Jensens last week, and they came back giving high marks for the quality. The onions have nice, normal size and great color.” And, he said, “We have good supplies and plenty of jumbo yellows to ship too.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, was very enthusiastic this week, telling us on Jan. 22, “To say things are positive is an understatement. Movement has been very good, not crazy or too many, but very good for weeks now.” He continued, “This week has been much the same, and we are in the week of the dreaded twos! What we have just experienced is what our summer growing regions figured out long ago: you will sell just as many, if not more, onions at a decent price as opposed to a poor price. I am further encouraged by our grower base and the active role they are taking in marketing their crop.” Dwayne said, “The days of being OK with a $6/$7 market are gone. Those numbers don’t pay the expenses anymore. We also are recognizing that we are really, really good at what we do, from growing to shipping. With that realization also comes the reality that our farms and growers can’t produce a superior crop, with superior food safety standards, and make needed technological advancements without some meat on the bone.” He went on to say, “On Feb. 4 at our area grower meeting I am excited to have the chance to see the costs of growing our crop broke down and updated even further. Figuring a return on my investment – land, equipment, prepaid expenses etc. – is something that I don’t even do on our family farm, and it will be interesting to get educated on what that should be.” Moreover, he said, “In terms of quality, we are moving forward with excellent product going into the bag and whatever needs to go into the cull truck to keep it that way is certainly happening. Mexico is still inquiring on product, and everything seems poised for the next set of increases to come into play. With many produce commodities at escalated or extreme price levels, a $12 FOB on onions, for example, which translates to 24 cents a pound, will still be listed as a great buy!”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, said on Jan. 22, “The market this week is somewhat steady, and demand for program business ordinary.” Chris said demand for outside business is “so-so,” and he said he was headed to Portland for Chinese New Year celebration for the Year of the Rat.
Ken Stewart with Asumendi Produce Inc. in Wilder, ID, told us on Jan. 22 that that business has picked up mid-week. “The week started out a little slow, which is expected this time of year, but demand has gotten better today,” he said. “So we’re happy that it feels like a normal week for us. And demand is pretty even across the board, but we are seeing increased interest for reds.” He also reported that quality is “excellent,” saying, “Like many shippers, we are spending a little more time on some lots with pack time, but we were fortunate to get onions in ahead of the low temps during harvest, and our quality has been very good.” On transportation, Ken said they are in good shape. “There are a couple of lanes that are a little tighter, but overall we’ve been able to cover our lanes and get the trucks we need.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Distributors in Payette, ID, reported on Jan. 22 that business is steady. “This morning it’s been a little quiet, but I know that Wednesdays are usually that way,” Dan said. “Overall demand has been steady across the board for all sizes and colors. The market is holding, too.” He continued, “I think we did it right this year by not pushing up too hard and too fast. We have a solid market, but we need it. It’s taking more labor this year to get the onions pretty, and we have had above average shrink this year. So the market is holding, but we really could use more.” Dan said transportation rates aren’t getting lower. “In the past, we’ve seen rates decline after the holidays and that doesn’t seem to be the case this year,” Dan said. “And we do have to work at it. We can get the trucks, it just seems that some days are better than others.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Jan. 22, “We are still shipping for another three weeks out of Corinne, and quality is really, really good.” He noted that demand has been so good that by the afternoon of Jan. 22 he was sold out for the rest of the week.”
Michelle Gurda with A. Gurda Produce in Pine Island told us on Jan. 22 that demand is steady. “It’s a little slower this week, but that’s to be expected for this time of year,” she said. “Overall everything is still fairly steady. Jumbo yellows are pretty tight as well as whites, so pricing is going up.” And, Michelle added, “Quality has been really good.” She said transportation seems to be OK. “Trucks are a little lighter, and prices still aren’t great,” she said. “But the prices still aren’t as crazy as they have been, and with gas prices increasing, it’s to be expected as well.”
Tampico Region Mexico:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said he plans to start his Mexico deal early next week. He said on Jan. 22, “The Tampico crop is at the doorstep and should be coming in on Monday or Tuesday of next week.” And, he said, “The crop looks very healthy, and we think the size will be good, probably above average.” David added, “At least on the front half of the crop we expect to get more big stuff, and we should have all three colors by Feb. 5-6. Most of the major importers will be going in early February, which is about two weeks ahead.” He said his growers had a little rain on Monday evening, and the decision was made to wait until Monday, Jan. 27, to ship. “We’ll start with sweets and whites probably that same day, and reds will fall into line quickly.”
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos in Raleigh, NC, told us Jan. 22 that things are going well with the L&M crop in Calipatria. “We have been tracking the progress in Calipatria, and things look very good so far,” he said. “We still have three months to go, but we expect a big season there, and we anticipate getting started April 21.”
Steve Gill with Gills Onions in Oxnard provided us with a great update this week, saying on Jan. 22, “The 2020 growing season is off to a very good start, and we are in the middle of planting in California. The short-day onion crop is looking strong. The intermediate onions are just beginning to come out of the ground, and the last of this crop is finishing being planted. The long day onion crop planting will begin in a few weeks.” Steve continued, “As for a California weather update, we are above normal rainfall in our key growing regions, and temperatures are cooler than normal for the early part of our growing season. Currently, we are on track to begin harvest again around April 15, but Mother Nature will decide that as we get closer to our start date.”
Our friend, Danny Ray sent us photos for the family farms’ new Vidalia onion crop. According to Danny, the “Our onions are off to a good start.”
Mike Davis with Tex-Mex Sales LLC in Weslaco told us on Jan. 22 that the Texas crop is in great shape. “Our Texas crop looks very good,” Mike said. “We’ve had nice mild growing weather, and the onions have responded well. We’re looking to start up on time the first part of March with our 1015s and possibly a little ahead of schedule. We expect a great season for Texas going into mid-May.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on Jan. 22 he’d seen about half of the Rio Grande Valley, and he said the crop has good stands and what looks to be good acreage, and he said it could start a bit early with first shipments maybe before Mexico cleans up in mid-March. “Mexico should finish around March 15, and I think we will have already started in the Rio Grande Valley,” David said. He said Wintergarden is on track to start “May 10 or so,” with the crop progressing normally.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said his Rio Grande Valley crop is coming along well and on track for a normal start. “The crop looks really good,” Don Ed said, noting the weather had cooled a bit over the past few days.
Tampico Region Mexico:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said his Mexico deal will kick off around Feb. 3, starting off with sweets, then whites about a week later and reds a week after that. “Everything looks really good,” he said.