Featured image: Bakersfield, CA courtesy of Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo
Bakersfield, CA/New Mexico/North Carolina:
Cal Parker with L&M Cos in North Carolina told us on June 23 that the company is shipping onions out of Bakersfield, CA, and Deming, NM, and also finishing up shipments out of eastern North Carolina. “Demand for onions coming out of Bakersfield has picked up since last week,” Cal said. “We have good demand for jumbos, colossals and supers. There was a bit of a gap there, which created an opportunity for us on reds and yellows, so that’s helped.” He continued, “Trucking has improved, though the rates are still high. We need to use reefers with the heat, and that means we need to compete with other produce categories – and that makes it tough.” Cal also said, “The market is steady. Of course, we would like it to be higher, but it is steady.” He added that L&M is shipping Billy the Kid’s onions out of Deming and said, “Demand for Billy the Kid’s onions has picked up significantly. This could have something to do with some quality issues of onions coming from Mexico as of late that’s giving us the edge.” And, he said, “There is good demand across the board for all colors and sizes, but medium yellows are moving really well, and whites have really perked up too. The market is steady, and there is an upswing in the market for whites due to the increase in demand. The quality is looking really nice, and we’re very happy with how the season is going there so far.” Cal said that L&M’s North Carolina deal is wrapping up. “We’ll be done with our North Carolina shipments in about seven days,” he said. “It’s been a nice program, being able to serve our partners here on the East Coast with a good freight advantage, and our growers seem to be pretty happy with how the season turned out.”
California Central Valley:
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, weighed in on June 23 about his company’s deal in Los Baños, CA, to say the shed is packing all three colors now. “Quality is good, but we’re being careful on scheduling harvest production and run time in between the heat spells,” Chris said. He noted that the market and pricing are steady, but he added, “It wouldn’t hurt if we saw a price bump for our extra demand right now before the July 4 holiday.” And, Chris said, “Exorbitantly high truck freight rates are hindering some of our fine marketing efforts to get the product delivered to our wanting customer base.” Chris also said that Owyhee GM Shay Myers will be a guest on Sunday Morning with Jane Pauley on June 27. The program, which will look at immigration and labor issues. Chris said Shay was contacted by Pauley’s team after Owyhee Produce gave away you-pick asparagus to 5,000 people in April. That story went viral – and the reason for the giveaway was a shortage of labor to pick and pack the crop. Sunday Morning with Jane Pauley airs on CBS at 9 a.m. ET; check your local stations for airtime.
Walla Walla, WA/Vidalia, GA:
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing reported on June 23 from his sales office in Walla Walla. “This is a near-record start for our Walla Wallas” he said. “We were packing by June 10, and demand has been great out of the gate. We have some of the nicest quality I’ve seen, and the size profile is good too. So, we got an early start with our Walla Walla sweet yellows, and our Walla Walla Rosés will start up early as well. We have those shipping by July 4. Our organic Walla Wallas program will begin the last week of June, and that’s an early start for them, too.” Dan added, “This crop has really followed the weather pattern that most regions have had this year. It’s just been a nice year for growing onions, really. For the most part, it’s been dry, and that’s good.” He said demand has been good, and he noted, “The market for Walla Wallas has been steady, and the customer base looks forward to receiving them. The retail sector trends are leaning toward consumer packs more and more. Maybe it’s the convenience factor or the reduced need to get ‘touchy-feely,’ but consumer pack demand does seem to be growing.” Dan added that Keystone is moving Vidalias on the East Coast. “We have had a pretty good season for Vidalias,” he said, noting that Keystone is “continuing to move Vidalia storage varieties on the East Coast and will do so until about mid-August. The Vidalias this year have had some of the nicest quality I’ve seen in years, so the growers there should be really happy with the way things turned out.” Dan concluded his report with a comment on Northwest overwinters. “I think we’re going to see some overwinters hitting the market by next week,” he said. “There is some harvesting going on now as we speak.”
Texas Eagle Pass/Quemado:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on June 23 he’s wrapped up his Texas/Mexico deal for the season, and the team is now putting together planting programs for 2021-22.
Zach Mason with Zach Mason Farms in Fowler told us on June 23, “Everything is going good as far as the onion crop. Irrigation water is adequate to keep them wet in all this record heat. We haven’t had any hail or other damaging weather – so far, so knock-on-wood.” Zach went on to say, “It’s hard to gauge when the onion crop will be mature since we’ve had a record cool and wet May and now record hot June. Makes me apprehensive about what kind of weather extremes we will see in July.”
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on June 23 that the recent hot weather across Colorado could bring on an earlier than normal start. He said, “Mid-August is a distinct possibility,” but he added that harvest crews are also busy at that time with the sweet corn deal. It’s a “wait and see” situation, he said. David added the onion program remains steady with about 70 percent in yellows, 10 percent in whites and 20 percent in reds, and a full line of consumer packs and bulk are available.
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on June 23 that “it’s been warm” on the Western Slope, but he added his grower hasn’t made any changes in his late August harvest schedule. Don Ed also works the Corinne, UT, deal, with those onions harvested in late summer/early fall and shipped starting in October.
Grant Kitamura with Baker and Murakami Produce Company provided a crop update on June 23. “We had some high winds last night, and the weather service did predict some hailstorms,” he said. “Today I have checked with growers in almost all parts of the Treasure Valley, from Nampa to Weiser, ID, and from the Oregon Slope to Vale, OR, and there have been no reports of any hail. We are experiencing some high heat, and there is heat in the forecast, but our growers have water on their fields, and they have adequate water supplies. The onions are in good shape.”
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, reported on June 23 that Peru is in the planning stages. “Peru is likely to be shipping in late July or early August,” he said. “They have had good growing weather, and of course this time frame is nothing out of the ordinary.”
And our thanks to Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo for his Bakersfield video/photo gallery this week. Happy Belated Birthday to our excellent contributor. Robert’s sister sent him a B-Day video that’s included in the gallery.