Featured image: Rio Farms/Gills Onions Kern County, CA onion harvest, courtesy of Megan Jacobsen with Gills Onions and Jose Cardona of Rio Farms
California, New Mexico and North Carolina:
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos in Raleigh, NC, reported to us June 9, saying, “Boy, we have a lot going on. I just returned from a two-week stint in California. We are wrapping up Calipatria, and we are moving equipment up to Bakersfield as we speak. We’ll start harvesting there today and started running onions on Monday.” He continued, “At our Bakersfield location, we’ll start all three colors out of the gate, and anticipate shipping out of that location until about Aug. 1.” Matt also said L&M’s New Mexico program started on June 7. “We started our Billy the Kid deal in Deming on Monday,” he said. “Out of the gate, the onions are on the smaller side, but we are packing all three colors, and the size will change rapidly. We’ll be into the larger stuff by next week. The quality looks excellent, and we expect to have a great season.” Matt also said, “Demand has been good, but the truck situation is still hampering us. Rates are high, and it’s tough to get trucks. We expect it to get better once trucking companies figure out they need to start coming into Deming for loads.” And, he added, “The market is OK, but the transportation situation does put pressure on the market.” On L&M’s North Carolina program, Matt said it’s been doing really well. “We have had a great run with our North Carolina growers,” Matt said. “We have such a freight advantage, and it’s been a good deal to be able to run onions up and down the East Coast.” He went on to say, “Two of our growers will finish harvesting this week, and we’ll have medium and jumbo yellows until next Friday.” Matt added that L&M has been moving fast with their onion deal. “Before you know it, you’ll be calling me after the Fourth of July, and I’ll be reporting about our Northwest onions again. Things move pretty quickly with these onion deals.”
Central California and New Mexico:
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, reported on June 9 that demand has been good this week. “We are currently selling onions out of Central California, and we’ve been shipping out of New Mexico for about two weeks now,” Jason said. “Out of California, we’re shipping mostly yellows and reds, with a few whites, and out of New Mexico, we’re shipping all three colors. Demand has been primarily for jumbo yellows. Reds have been tight, but it’s still pretty even across the board. The quality out of both areas has been very good.” When asked about the market, Jason said, “It’s all over the place. We’re hearing about deals being made on some onions with quality issues, and that’s dragging down the market, so it should be better for sure.” Jason noted that Eagle Eye’s Eastern Oregon crop is progressing nicely. “The crop looks great! We could use a just little more rain and moisture.”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, told us on June 9 his operation is currently shipping out of Los Baños, CA. “We have all three colors, good sizing, excellent quality – the best I’ve ever seen – and decent production,” he said. “Weather has been mild, and we have adequate water to finish the crop.” Chris added, “Market pricing is decent, and we just have to deal with transportation shortages. But we’re getting the job done, slowly but surely.”
Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms told us on June 9 his operation got started with harvest on June 4, a week to 10 days earlier than usual. “A heatwave brought it on a little early, but we’re pumping along now,” he said. “So far, so good. The quality and yields are really good, and the sizing variety is really nice. We have so many pack sizes – really, we can do anything,” he said. “We have a plethora to choose from.” Michael said the Walla Walla Rosé reds are expected to start shipping within the next few weeks. “They are still growing,” he said, “But do expect to have them ready for July 4.” Our thanks to Michael for great shots of Walla Walla Sweet Onions this week!
Texas Eagle Pass/Quemado:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen told us on June 9 that Quemado will run another two weeks. “We’re into our intermediates and running all three colors,” David said. “Transportation has been easier this week, too.” He added that while the cost of lumber is escalating, he’s not noticed any issues with pallets at this time.
Danny Ray with Ray Farms, Inc. in Glennville told us on June 9 that demand for Vidalias has been good. “We have been selling at a pretty good pace, and with summer just picking up, we expect things to get better,” he said. “Our onions are used for barbeques and picnics, and so basically we are just getting started.” Danny continued, “It has been a pretty crazy season. I’ve been doing this since 1972, and this is one of the strangest seasons ever. With transportation the way it is, and the fact that you can’t get help and there is a shortage of pallets and packaging material, you don’t know what to expect from one day to the next. But we still anticipate a pretty good summer. We will finish our last fresh shipments today and tomorrow, and then we will start our storage stuff over the weekend.” Danny looked at market conditions, saying, “The market hasn’t been too bad. It hasn’t been as high as we’d like, but we haven’t had terribly low prices, so we can’t complain. Again, we think that as we get further into summer, demand and prices should increase.”
California Bakersfield/Kern County:
Megan Jacobsen with Gills Onions in Oxnard shared some awesome photos from Jose Cardona of Rio Farms along with news that harvest officially started June 4 in Kern County. “That is our largest growing area, and we will be harvesting there until late August,” Megan said. Our thanks to Gills for the report and to Jose for the awesome shots.
Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo reported in from the Central Valley on June 9, saying it had been cooler than usual where his intermediate onion varieties are growing. “We will start harvest on June 2.” Robert commented on short-day varieties grown by other operations in the Central Valley, noting they are the same as are grown in the Imperial Valley to the south. “What’s interesting is these varieties are planted at the same time in both valleys but come off six to eight weeks apart,” he said. “Ours are intermediate varieties since we usually have short days from Imperial still in storage, hence the wait time.” Robert said he is traveling to the Antelope Valley later this week to look at fields there. “Everything I saw in the south San Joaquin Valley, the ‘south Central Valley,’ looks great. Yields will be up from last year.” And he said, “We have started our northern San Joaquin Valley onions, which will run through August.”
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on June 9 his Colorado deal is coming along, with both growers reporting good conditions and normal progress for a Labor Day start. “We’re going into the season offering a full range of consumer packs,” David said.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on June 9 his Olathe grower expects a normal start to the season in late August. Conditions have been good both on the Western Slope and also in Corinne, UT, where Don Ed’s growers will start shipping their onions, which are harvested in late summer/early fall and then put into storage, in October.