Featured image: Idaho-Eastern Oregon onion crop progress, courtesy of Grant Kitamura with Baker and Murakami Produce Co. in Ontario, OR
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from Troy Caston Farms in the Imperial Valley, CA, on June 2. “Things are going pretty well this week,” he said. “I am completely sold out of jumbo yellows for the next couple of days, and demand for all colors and sizes has been good.” He continued, “Trucks are still hard to get, but it’s gotten better. We would like to be loading between 10-12 trucks a day, and we are averaging about eight to 10, but yesterday we had 15 trucks, so we were able to hold over one and get that loaded. So, all in all, I shouldn’t be complaining given what we’ve had to deal with freight.” John said the operation will be shipping until around June 15. “We’ll finish harvesting Thursday and then sell through mid-June,” he said. “We have all colors and sizes still available, and I still have a couple of hundred bins of whites.” Market-wise, John said it’s been an OK season. “It’s true, we could have used a couple of bucks more for these growers down here because costs just keep going up, but we’re committed to harvest and sell what we put in the ground so that’s just the way it goes.” John also said, “At Troy Caston, we are more fortunate than some because we have a lot of the same crew that comes back every year, but I have noticed that we do have some younger crew members and more that speak English now. Since they are coming across the border and don’t get U.S. unemployment, they actually show up for work every day. Here they come like clockwork every day at 7 a.m. So, in that regard, we are fortunate. We’ve also been fortunate that the machinery has been running well and the baggers just keep clipping along and things have run smoothly with packing.” John added that when he is finished selling at Troy Caston, he will move up to Five Points, CA, and begin onion sales from that region.
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum told us on June 2 that onion sales are good this week. “We are still selling a little out of Washington, and we’re moving onions out of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Mexico,” he said. “I really can’t say which region we are pulling the most from. It just depends on where we can get the trucks and what makes the most sense for the customer.” He continued, “Of course, mediums and pre-packs still drive the deal, but we are seeing more interest in the ‘bigs.’ All colors are doing pretty well. Reds are a little snug. The market remains steady. Not much to say there.” In terms of quality, Rick said, “It’s typical. The onions moving now are the standard new crop summer onion. That’s about it.” And he said, “I do want to add a note to all customers that they need to be extremely flexible right now. The truck situation continues to be terrible, and preplanning is a must. With the 4th of July holiday just around the corner, they better get their holiday orders on the books now. Waiting might mean that won’t get their order if the shipper can’t load a truck with it.” Finally, OnionBusiness wants to give an Anniversary shout-out to Rick and his team. Greener will be celebrating three years in business on June 18. “It’s pretty wild,” Rick said. “Hard to believe it’s been three years. We are appreciative to all of our customers, and we’re happy and consider ourselves lucky to be getting up and coming every day to keep on doing what we’re doing.”
Texas Eagle Pass/Quemado:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on June 2 the Quemado crop continues to move well, with all sizes and colors available. Transportation is adequate, David said, and the deal will run through June 15-20.
James Johnson with Carzalia Valley Produce in Columbus told us on June 2 the new season is going well. “Crop quality is excellent,” he said. “Size has been small in the first or early lots but getting bigger as we go. All colors and all sizes are now available.” James noted that “transportation or lack thereof is an issue, and there’s lots of competition for available trucks until things settle in.” He also said, “Package supplies and pallets are a nightmare! Corrugate is running as far as seven weeks out for delivery.”
Northern Colorado/New Mexico:
John Harris with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Morgan sent this report out late last week from “sunny Las Cruces, NM.” John said he had been in the Las Cruces area all week, “looking at the crop and meeting with growers and shippers as this will be our shipping point home for the next two-plus months.” He said, “So far, what I can report is that this is one beautiful large crop of onions across the board. In the beginning of the deal, it appears that size is going to be on the smaller side with few colossal and supers available, and then that trend shifting as usual towards the last half of the month.” He continued, “Expect jumbo prices for the next two to three weeks to be bullish as size is a premium with what I see coming out of the fields currently. That will flip at the end of the month when smaller onions will become the bull and jumbo and larger prices will likely soften up a bit. Reds are in the same boats as yellows and on the same time frame for size and price. Whites seem to be a nice mix of sizes, and I look for that to continue, possibly with size becoming more predominately jumbo as we get closer to July.” Our thanks to John for some great photos of onions waiting to be clipped on Thursday, May 27.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said his deals are “steady as she goes” this week. The Onion House continues to move whites out of Chihuahua, and Don Ed said, “Quality is great, and appearance is awesome.” He added that Chihuahua should go through June 15.
Zach Mason with Zach Mason Farms in in Fowler gave a great report on June 2. “The 2021 onion crop down here is off to a great start,” he said. “Got excellent stands and good seedbed conditions in all the fields. I haven’t had to apply irrigation water to any crops since May 8 – I’ve been getting two-and-a-half-plus inches of rain every weekend right on schedule. Wettest May anybody around here can remember.” He continued, “There’s been some really bad hail in the Vineland area, but I think everybody agrees if you gotta get beat up, the sooner the better.”
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, said on June 2 the Colorado Western Slope crop continues on track for a Labor Day start.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on June 2 the crops on Colorado’s Western Slope and Corinne, UT, “are still growing,” and both areas are expecting normal start-ups. Colorado’s season traditionally kicks off in late August, and Utah begins shipping in October.
Grant Kitamura with Baker and Murakami Produce Co. in Ontario, OR, reported that the company’s growers’ crops are progressing well. “We had a rough April with no rain and bouts of heavy winds, but the onion plants came through it and are looking very good,” Grant said on June 2. “This week, we’re expecting a few days of unseasonably hot weather, but that’s only expected to last about three days and then the temps will return to normal. Our growers have plenty of water on the fields, and the onions are growing like crazy, so we’re in good shape,” he said. “The plants look healthy, and everything looks to be on track for an early August start-up.” Grant added that Baker and Murakami’’ growers will have the same acreage that they had last season.