Featured image: Kern County, CA yellow onions, courtesy of Robert Bell with Western Onion Sales, Inc.
California Central Valley:
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, reported in on June 26, saying, “This week we are in Sedalia, MO, for the Midwest Stud Ram Sheep Show and Sale, and I have to say while we are hot and sweaty here every year, it is nothing compared to the onion market this week! Trucks wait sometimes for days to get their loads, and of course, what is coming straight out of the field isn’t the high jumbo profile we need. We are hoping that adjusts with the field change coming, but we expect this deal to stay super-hot for the short term and very good well into fall.”
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, reported on June 26 that demand and the market are high this week. “We are shipping out of California with a few loads coming out of New Mexico,” he said. “Last week, the movement was close to a 10-year high for this time of year, and demand is still strong this week. We always see higher demand before a holiday, but the supply and demand theory has increased demand preceding July 4. It’s really no surprise that fewer acres and less than optimal early growing weather have contributed to this. Plus, you add to the fact it’s sort of like the stock market. Buyers start buying based on emotion if there are fewer supplies. The Fourth of July is huge for the produce industry as a whole, and as long as the weather is decent and the grills get fired up, you can count on the Fourth to be big for onions.” Dan added, “Quality has been pretty good, too. We all know that fresh onions are normally more sensitive, and maybe this season they are a little more sensitive than normal because of the weather, but our loads have been delivering really well.”
Michael Locati with Pacific Agra Farms told us June 26 he was very busy with harvest and “happy with the way things are going.” He said, “We have a good hard-working crew, and excited customers are getting Walla Wallas in their stores.” And handling sales for Pacific Agra Farms, Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing told us that demand and the market for Walla Walla Sweets are very good this week. “While we have had some weather like most onion crops that are shipping now, the climate swings in the Northwest haven’t been as severe as other parts of the country,” he said. “Consequently, the quality has been good. We have seen a good response from buyers and the pricing is favorable as well.”
Corey Griswold with ProSource Inc. headquartered in Hailey, ID, described the company’s New Mexico program at Rio Valley Onion (RVO) in Rincon is full tilt. “This thing is on fire,” Corey said on June 24. “I haven’t seen a market run like this since 2009.” Corey continued, “We started at $20, and it took 30 minutes to move to $22 on jumbos and $23 on colossals.” Super and jumbo reds were higher, and mediums were at $12, he said. Corey said jumbo and medium whites were also at a premium price. “We’re running over,” he continued. “Quality is exceptional, and no one has enough onions.” He cited rain as “part of the reason we have supply issues.” And, he said, “We’re cookin’ with gas.”
John Harris with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Morgan told us on June 26, “I’ve been a little quiet this week, and to be honest I am scratching my head a little more this week than usual. Washington and New Mexico are kicked off, California has some offerings this week, and oh yeah, the market went up another $4 on Monday. I really thought on Monday when this thing went to $22 FOB on yellows that it would come to a screeching halt. I was convinced that the most I was willing to pay was $18 for yellows.” He continued, “I still have not paid more than $18 for yellows, and if I’m being honest, I haven’t bought much either. The market is a firm $20 in New Mexico, and it’s trading at a steady $18 in Washington on overwinters. Whites are impossible. Reds are around. and the price is a little sporadic from shed to shed.” John went on to say, “I’m going to continue to stay primarily on the sidelines until this thing comes down to earth – mostly just to avoid the massive plummet that is coming sometime in the next two weeks. I have nothing to offer in Fort Morgan this week as we are sold out through the middle of next week at this point.”
Walt Dasher with G&R Farms in Glennville told us June 26, “We’re shipping from storage now, and quality is very good.” He added, “This looks like it will be one of our shorter seasons because we had fewer onions going into storage, and I think in late July or early August the Vidalias will be winding down.” G&R will transition into its Peru deal at that time, and Walt said the yellow sweets should come in without much of a gap if at all.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, reported on June 26 that things are moving along nicely for Vidalia shipments. “Like other parts of the U.S., Vidalia is benefitting from a strong onion market,” he said. “As we all know, the crop was a little shorter this season, but the quality has been good, and we anticipate good shipments through the end of July.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum, ID, told us June 26 that it has been his busiest week of the year. “The demand and the market are reminiscent of the streak we had late winter,” he said. “It has been a stampede. We are shipping onions out of California and overwintering and Walla Walla Sweets out of Washington. They are going all over the place – to the Midwest, East Coast, and Canada as well.” He continued, “I would rate the market as volatile. Basically, it’s a ‘buy ’em when you can get ’em’ mentality, and with trucks getting tight, if you get a truck, you better load it. Quite honestly, I just don’t see a change in the volatile market coming any time soon. Unless some magical crop we don’t know about springs up with major volume in all three colors, I think there’s potential to see the market this way at least through August. Maybe it could extend beyond that if there are crop shortages in regions where they had issues with weather and planting. We’ll see.” Rick said, “On the business side of things, we are fortunate to be increasing our customer base. Our relatively new team member, Brant Moles, is doing a great job and has recently added more customers.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, told us on June 26, “Our Idaho crop keeps progressing, but with mid 80s temps we could use another 5-10 degrees to make up ground. If we get that instead of our 100 plus days in July that would be helpful. Our farms’ and growers’ crops look solid, and we will see what Mother Nature does the next couple months.” Dwayne added, “It will be nice to get back into our performance and quality when we transition back. We take for granted what we are able to do with a storage crop. Working year round, it becomes very clear that we don’t put a high enough value on the performance factors that we exceed on a daily basis in terms of service, having a consistent supply, and the superb quality we provide for our customers.”
Western Colorado/Corinne, Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, was traveling earlier in the week but let us know that the crops on Colorado’s Western Slope and in Corinne, UT, are both “looking good.” Colorado is expected to start around Labor Day, and Utah is harvested, put into storage and shipped later in the fall.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, reported that onion shipments out of Peru are “on the water.” He said, “We expect shipments should arrive in the U.S. by the end of July. We will have good quality out of the gate, and we are looking forward to the Mayan Sweets helping with summer onion supplies.”