Featured image: Bakersfield harvest, courtesy of Megan Jacobsen with Gills Onions and Jose Cardona of Rio Farms.
California Imperial Valley:
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from the Imperial Valley on June 16. “We are finishing up here at Troy Caston, and I am selling out of Five Points now and will be traveling home tomorrow, selling from my Salem, OR, office,” John said. “I have to tell you, out of my 26 years of coming down here, this is the roughest year yet.” He continued, “It was mostly trucks that hurt us. We had such a tough time finding trucks, and when we did, no one wanted to pay the price for the onions with the high truck rates, so we got beat down on the price. And we had to decide – do we want to sell it, or smell it? In the end, we decided not to run some bins. It wasn’t an overwhelming amount, but then again, no grower wants to leave onions unsold.” John continued, “And let’s be honest here: this is the latest in the season Mexican onions have come across and with such volume. You can say what you want about ‘free trade,’ but brother, this isn’t free! Over 100 loads crossing every day doesn’t have an impact on the American onion industry? Come on! This isn’t dumping? If the NOA and the USDA aren’t going to do something about this, we need to find another way.” He said, “And this old talk about Northwest growers and other areas growing too much. Heck, if you throw out the imports, with American grown onions, we’d all be fine.” And, he concluded, “On top of it all, these Imperial Valley guys didn’t even have that big of a crop this year. It’s just a heartbreaking deal seeing second- and third-generation farmers down here seeing this kind of season because we can’t get a handle on this “dumping” issue.”
California Central Valley:
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, told us on June 16 his operation is now shipping out of Huron in the Central Valley, and demand is on the rise. “Demand out of Huron is starting to pick up with Imperial Valley finishing,” Steve said. He added, “We are shipping all sizes of yellows and reds.” When we asked if there had been any changes in the market, Steve answered, “The market right now is somewhat unsettled, with a range of pricing contingent on freight rates to a particular area.” Transportation, he said, “is a challenge, and there’s no reason not to think this challenge will continue all summer.” Steve added, “The quality has been very good.”
California and New Mexico:
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce reported from the road this week, and when asked about demand, he told us it was slow. “I’ve gotta tell ya, it’s slow,” Jason said. “There are just a lot of onions out there. There is demand for jumbo yellows out of both Central California and New Mexico. Whites out of New Mexico are really tight. And quality out of both areas is very good, but the market is way, way too low. It needs to be much higher than it is right now.” When asked about transportation, Jason said, “All I have is two words: “ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE!” He ended his report this week with a quick update on the crop progress in the Treasure Valley. “Everything is coming right along. We got a little behind with the heat, and the crop looks to be in really good shape.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum reported to us on June 16, saying, “Monday demand was good. Tuesday it started to slow down, and today I am working for business.” He continued, “I am selling from a variety of areas – California, Mexico, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico. I have some onions coming out of Washington, too. And get this: I have some onions shipping out of North Dakota.” Rick said mediums continue to drive demand. “For sure, mediums still dominate demand, but there is pretty steady demand for colossals too,” he said. “Might be a good indicator on foodservice. I would say the market is ‘ish.’ ‘Steady-ish,’ with spot buys here and there.” Rick went on to say, “I am encouraging buyers to pre-buy for the Fourth due to the truck situation. We have found some good trucking partners, so we’ve been selling in reverse. Meaning, we get the truck and call our buyers and say, ‘Hey, we have a truck. You need anything?’ It seems to be working well.”
James Johnson with Carzalia Valley Produce in Columbus told us on June 17, “It’s a hot, windy, and expensive season. Labor, transportation, pallets and packaging are all in short supply, and management of each has been a nightmare.” He added, “Bright spot for the summer is the crop is yielding well and quality has been excellent so far.”
Texas Winter Garden/Uvalde:
Our friends at Texas 1015 Sweet Onions provided us with an update on the Wintergarden area of South Texas, saying, “Supplies look great, especially on jumbo sized yellows and TX1015s. Growers have had to remain nimble to harvest when they can due to at least a weekly rain event each week for the last month. If weather cooperates, expect harvest to continue for another four or more weeks.”
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said his Olathe, CO, and Corinne, UT, deals are steady as she goes. Both areas have said the crops are on track for a normal harvest, with Colorado traditionally kicking off in late August and Corinne starting its shipping in October.
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms in Salem, OR, reported on June 16 that he will start selling Northwest overwinters in about 10 days. “Things are looking pretty good,” John said. “We were set for a little early start with some nice warmer temps, but we could be slightly delayed because we received some pretty extreme heat. We will start out with all yellows and add reds and we get further into harvest.”
Many thanks to Tiffany Cruickshank with Snake River Produce Co. for sending recent photos of their growers’ 2021 crop proress.
Many thanks to Megan Jacobsen with Gills Onions and Jose Cardona of Rio Farms for this week’s featured image and for sending recent photos of their Bakersfield harvest.