Featured image: Walla Walla, WA Rosé red onions, photo courtesy of Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms
Dear OnionBiz Readers: Next week, we will take a break from our regular ‘Market and Crop Update’ reporting to recognize the Independence Day holiday and the short week of sales activity. Our newsletter will still be published on Thursday and will feature fabulous Instagram posts of National Onion Ring Day and National Onion Day, of which we already have gathered over 100. We will also showcase photo contributions we have received for the first half of 2023. You don’t want to miss it!
Central Valley, CA/New Mexico:
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms provided his report from his Salem, OR, office on June 28. “It’s been a mad dash to get orders in before the July 4th holiday next week,” he said. “We are moving onions out of the Central Valley and some out of New Mexico. The quality has been good and we haven’t had any issues with quality.” John added, “Medium reds are tight, and a lot has to do with how medium reds are sized – and we have to remember how the weather played a factor and California ended up with some really nice growing weather at the end and the reds got some nice sizing on them before harvest time.” He continued, “Medium and jumbo yellows are doing well on demand, and colossals are good on demand as well. Pricing has remained steady, and the market is stable. I don’t think that will change much. With the holiday coming up and folks already thinking of taking Friday and Monday off, they’re going to come back over the real holiday on Tuesday, and when they see their supplies depleted on Wednesday, they’re going to say, ‘Hey, what happened to all the onions?’ And we’re going to see another spike in demand, and that’s going to help the market. Bottom line, we’re in for a stable market for a while here.” When asked about transportation, John said, “When you’re getting more calls from truck brokers than you are customers, I’d say that transportation is doing just fine.”
Bakersfield, CA/New Mexico:
Matt Murphy with L&M Companies headquartered in Raleigh, NC, provided his report on June 28. “We are very busy and loading a lot of trucks this week,” he said. “We are nearing the end of selling the early onions out of Bakersfield – we were getting a little worried about the later onions that were planted in the Central Valley catching up, but the weather has been good and the onions caught up, so it doesn’t look like there is going to be much of a gap.” He added, “We’ll have the July 3 and July 4 off there and then get cranking up again and start up with the later onions out of Bakersfield on July 5. That will get us another two and half weeks there and will take us up to about July 22, or right around when IFPA Foodservice starts.” Matt continued, “We’ve had great quality and good size out of Bakersfield. Towards the end we may have some smaller sizing because of the weather we had in February, but the crop turned out really nice, and the quality has been very good.” Matt said L&M New Mexico deal is “shipping like crazy,” adding, “We are rocking it out of New Mexico, going full steam out of Deming with overwinters in all colors and sizes. We’ll start shipping transplants next Monday, and then the direct-seeded will ramp up the middle of July. The onions look good there, and we’ve been super busy selling onions out of Billy the Kid’s shed.” When asked about the market, Matt said, it’s steady. “It looks like fewer onions are coming from Mexico, so we aren’t getting too beat up there,” he said. “Now that there are onions coming from fewer places, we should have a solid market for July, and pricing should be good going into August too.” Matt added that freight cost has been the lowest in seven to 10 years. “Rates have been good,” he said. “There has been real importance on performance. Drivers are getting it done and doing what they need to do, and that has been a noticeable difference.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, told us on June 28 that his company is selling out of Bakersfield, CA, and New Mexico. “Demand is off from last week but still very good,” he said. “Since the July 4th pull is basically done, demand is less than last week, but we still have plenty of demand. Medium yellows are still a hot item, and we have plenty of buyers asking for colossals.” He added, “Medium reds are very tight coming out of both Bakersfield and New Mexico. We’re shipping all sizes of yellows out of both areas as well as jumbo reds from both areas and jumbo and medium whites out of New Mexico. Quality has been excellent shipping out of both areas as well.” Jason continued, “Overall things are running smoothly, and we anticipate shipping from both California and New Mexico until we transition to the Northwest, which will be the Aug. 1.” When asked about the market, Jason said, “The market is holding steady and we’re good with that.” Jason commented on transportation, saying, “Getting trucks hasn’t been an issue, and we are getting everything we need. If you want a truck, you can definitely find one.”
California/New Mexico/Northern Mexico:
Chris Woo in Idaho-E. Oregon’s Treasure Valley weighed in on June 28. With the areas shipping now – mid and central California, New Mexico/northern Mexico and Vidalia, — Chris said, “The market has been decently priced for reds and yellows. White onion volume is presently conducive for ads and additional promotions.”
Brad Sumner with Pacific Coast Trading in Portland told us on June 28 that demand had dipped a bit, noting, “Demand late last week and up until yesterday has been good. Must be holiday fill up time.” He added, “Demand for medium yellow and medium reds is amped up because those items are shorter than the others. Demand is one thing; getting product is another. Steady increased demand has been there on the other colors and sizes up until today. Feels a little quieter but feeling that always backfires on me.” The market, Brad said, “is good and steady – a little push on reds outside of commitments.” Looking at availability, Brad said, “El Centro/Brawley/Central Mexico is done. Our crop in Baja is coming off now, and it is nice and should go into August. Central Cal /New Mexico is where USA supply is coming from now. Demand should match or exceed supply so should be a good run through summer into storage crop.” He went on to say, “Our Baja crop has good quality. The whites are a little greener than I like but should get better. I have not seen any Central Cal Crop so I cannot speak to it, but I have not heard anything about any issues. Glad the desert crop is done.” Brad also discussed transportation, saying, “For me, it just increases in my Southern Cal to Portland and Kent runs. Price went up again this week.” He concluded, “I have heard we are heading into the Central Cal time slot during the planting season where it rained so hard for two or three weeks so no one could plant. Will we have a short market for a few weeks…? We will see. Happy 4th of July, everyone!”
Walla Walla, WA:
Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms said the 2023 Walla Walla season is “moving right along, and we’ll be going on to transplants in about 10 days, which is about the right time frame.” He said the area is “going into a hot spell this weekend, but that’s normal for July as well.” Looking to Independence Day and the availability of his Walla Walla Sweet Rosés, Michael said, “We harvested our first field that’s being packed this week. We’re looking at a pretty short supply of Rosés this year, but we have our core Northwest customers covered. Look to Safeway and Albertsons and also Costco Canada.” Thanks to Michael for shots of the gorgeous Rosés.
Matt Murphy with Raleigh, NC-based L&M Companies provided his report on June 28. “Our Kansas and Colorado crops are coming along well,” he said. “We’re looking at the third week in August to get going, and Kansas will start up first, followed by Colorado. It’s about and eight-week deal. The crop looks good, and we anticipate a good season out of both areas.” Matt said L&M’s Warden, WA, program will start up the first week in August. “The crop looks great in Warden,” he said. “Growing weather has been good, and we are expecting a very good start for our Washington deal.”
Chris Woo in the Treasure Valley of Idaho-E. Oregon told us on June 28, “Another fine crop of Idaho-Oregon onions is being produced. The onions are a little bit behind estimated start-up of around Aug. 12.” He added, “So far summer has been good, and Idaho-Oregon has no issues to report. Happy 4th to all!” Our thanks to Chris for a Spanish Sweet field shot.