California Imperial Valley:
Jessica Peri with Peri & Sons in Yerington, NV, weighed in on the El Centro deal on June 13 saying, “Freight is outrageous.” She said, “Last week rates spiked during the ‘DOT audit’ week. Freight is higher than the price of yellows and whites heading east.” Jessica said the yellow market is “very weak,” adding, “There were just too many onions in the Imperial Valley, with product being offered OPEN and PAS to clean up. Never a good sign.” The white market, she said, is “fair to week,” with quality “all over the board.” And the red market is “decent, carrying the highest price at the moment.”
California San Joaquin Valley:
Jessica Peri with Peri & Sons in Yerington, NV, told us on June 13, “The crop is looking very nice in Firebaugh. We are through our short day harvest, and we are still a few weeks away from Sweetie Sweets and Organic Sweetie Sweets.”
Steve Gill with Gills Onions in Oxnard told us June 13, “We are harvesting in Bakersfield now through August. So far, the size has been above average – a lot of large jumbos and colossal onions, which is great for the Gills Onions team and for what we utilize the onions for at our fresh-cut processing plant. We are looking very strong and will have enough supply to keep us going.”
California Imperial Valley/San Joaquin Valley:
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, reported June 13 that Keystone is finishing shipments from the Southern Imperial Valley are moving to the San Joaquin Valley. “We are moving right along there,” Dan said. “The crop looks good, and we don’t have any surprises there. Of course, we are aware of the heat, but it’s important to note it’s not a concern because the growers are very familiar with how to address any heat issues to protect the quality of the product.” And while there is no concern about heat problems, Dan said that the produce industry as a whole is concerned about freight. “Freight is a challenge and it’s not just onions,” Dan said. “It’s all about finding trucks right now –
and when you find them, justifying the rates.”
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla reported that Walla Walla growers are harvesting and will start packing this week for shipments on Sunday. “Starting at this time is pretty normal for us. The crop looks normal with very good quality. Of course, we’ll know about the quality as we begin packing,” he said. Dan said Keystone is excited about the new season. “The packing shed has upgraded with some new equipment, and it looks like the labor is going to be sufficient to cover the operation this year,” he reported. “Things are set, and we’re excited to get rolling!”
Dave Bryan, who’s working sales with Larry Denke at Agri-Pack in Pasco, told us June 13 the Walla Walla onions moved by Agri-Pack are curing and will start shipping early next week. “We’ll be quoting prices in the next few days,” he said, adding that the crop looks “beautiful.” Dave also said the overwinters are all in and curing, and they too will be available next week. “The onions have nice sizing, mostly mediums to jumbos,” he said. The all-yellow crop looks “really nice,” and Dave said quality is good. Dave, who has some three decades in the industry, working every aspect from retail to wholesale to shipper, came to the company just this week.
James Johnson with Carzalia Valley Produce in Columbus told us June 13 that CVP is midway through its fall
seeded harvest. “We have about two more weeks of fall seeded and then go right to transplants,” James said. “We don’t foresee a gap at all.” He said movement and demand are both good, with transportation a primary issue. “Price is still a little rough on yellows. Reds are strong,” he said. And he noted that New Mexico growers are trending to bigger onions this season. Looking to the weekend, James said there’s a chance of rain in New Mexico from systems coming from Hurricane Bud, which as of Wednesday was moving up Mexico’s Pacific coast to the Baja Peninsula. Other Southwestern states also stand to see moisture from the system. The longtime New Mexico grower also said his operation is “really happy with our partnership with Onions 52.” The grower/shipper entered into an exclusive marketing agreement with Onions 52 last year.
Texas Winter Garden:
David DeBerry with Southwest Growers in McAllen told us June 13 the Eagle Pass deal has a week to 10 days remaining. He said, “Labor has been an issue this year. Movement is fine but limited by transportation issues.” The onions included a late variety that is coming off late this week, he noted.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, told us on June 13 that Keystone is winding down its fresh pack loads and will be transitioning to storage onions. “The quality this season has been pretty darn good with our fresh pack, and we have every reason to believe the storage onions will have fine quality too,” Dan said. “The storages won’t be as full as they have been in recent years, but we’ll just have to see how it all plays out.”
Jason Vee with Vee’s Marketing in Lake Nebagamon, WI, told us June 13, “Reds are picking up. Up markets are a hard sell when we can’t very well even establish a freight market, but that’s what we are doing. I think most of us still have a DOT-week hangover after last week. However, it is refreshing to see some upward movement.” He continued, “This always seems too early, but winter-over onions are starting in Washington. It especially feels early when I still have orders on my desk for old crop yellows still loading this week. New crop Washington onions include Walla Walla Sweets. I expect to start loading those by the end of next week. It’s a welcome opportunity for me to avoid freight out of California. I do much better sourcing trucks out of Washington.” Looking at Georgia, Jason said, “I’ve had good luck on the few loads of Vidalia sweet onions I have loaded recently, but there are rumblings the weather is affecting some with rain skin and bad arrivals. I’ve had a few customers ask for options to switch out of Georgia onions. I suggest some go into New Mexico carton sweets and others into Walla Wallas. There are good California sweet onions, too. I just have a harder time making the freight work out of California.”
Jessica Peri with Peri & Sons in Yerington told us the Nevada crop “is coming along, so far so good.” She said crews will start harvesting mid- to late August and shipping will start the first week of September.” She said, “Sunions are looking healthy. Their tops are wild, like floppy bunny ears. This is definitely a variety that is in a league of its own.”
Grant Kitamura with Baker & Murakami Produce Co. in Ontario, OR, told us June 13 that his field men have been busy surveying the fields, and everything is progressing well. “The crop is being irrigated, and the stands look nice,” Grant said. “And the best way to describe our growing weather is ideal!”
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us the Western Colorado onion crop is “rockin’ ‘n rollin’” and right on schedule for an early September start. “John Harold told me the crop is gorgeous,” Don Ed said. “And the guys in Utah are saying the same thing.” The Corinne Utah starts moving in October.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, said that Keystone’s Peru crop is progressing normally “Peru is no exception to the growing weather for most all onion regions, not too hot and not too cold,” Dan said. “At this point, we believe we will see a repeat crop of last year with shipments leaving the port during the last two weeks in July. Depending on what port they arrive at, we’re looking for Mayan Sweets to arrive in the U.S. early to mid-August.”
Featured Image: Walla Walla, WA onion harvest, courtesy of Michael Locati