Trish Lovell with Curry & Co. in Brooks told us on Feb. 28, “Business has been steady. Disappointed that the market prices have not moved. We were hoping to see an increase. Anticipating more demand in a couple of weeks with Easter being the first of April.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, told us demand this week has decreased. “Demand is off for us from the previous three weeks.” Steve said increased supplies from Mexico have affected “some of our markets,” and he added, “With demand being down this week and Mexico increasing volume, the market is feeling the pressure on price. In years past Mexico was able to put a certain percentage of their jumbo yellows in cartons, selling them for sweets to retail markets. I’m being told that market segment is being covered by onions from South America at this time.” As for demand, he noted, “There doesn’t seem to be one size in greater demand than another.” On the transportation side, Steve said, “Trucks are becoming easier to book this week, but railcars still are not readily available.” Baker & Murakami continues to have good availability on yellows and reds, although Steve said, “White supplies are tight, we are only filling pallet quantities.” He said, “Quality is very good.”
Jessica Peri with Peri & Sons in Yerington told us Feb. 28 that the market in recent weeks has weakened. “It’s the year of the roller coaster,” she said of the past season. “The market was strong a good part of the season, but in late January demand really slacked off. And now everything is stagnant.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, told us Feb. 28 the onions coming up out of Tampico are “all colors and all packs,” and he said, “We’re shipping between 20,000 to 30,000 a day, which is full volume.” Southwest started the Mexican deal the week before Christmas, and David said he expects to run through the end of March, with about a week’s overlap with Texas 1015s. He said transportation has “improved from December and January, but it’s still a challenge with rates 15-30 percent above historical normal.” David added, “The important thing is that we keep up with good deliveries and be on time.”
Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor said, “Some growers are getting close to finishing up. We will have product into May.” Doug also said he’s “expecting demand to increase as well as pricing over the next few weeks,” and he added Gumz has “plenty of good quality yellows in both medium and jumbo sizes.”
Jason Vee with Vee’s Marketing in Lake Nebagamon, WI, weighed in this week with his unique perspective of the market. “We’ve gone from slow to full market decline,” he said. “The jumbo white onion market is the weakest this week because of overlapping districts. Jumbo red market is similar. I hope that’s the market correction we needed to get things moving again.” He continued, “On the up-side, quality is still very good. I don’t think I’ve flagged more than a couple files since September. That’s rare to have a season so trouble-free.” Jason said looking ahead, “Most of my winter contracts are up March 15. The usual plan of attack for me is to stay in Washington on most onions until the first week of April, except on Tampico carton sweets. That’s still my plan for the Midwest. Western Canada will start buying more U.S. onions as soon as their local supply winds down, at least reds, whites, and sweets. The yellow storage crop goes longer.” But, he said, “for states east of Texas, it will be much more difficult justifying a longer stay in the Northwest.” And Jason concluded by saying, “In the meantime, I also have local Wisconsin jumbo yellow onions to move. That’s not always the case. Our growing season generally lends itself to smaller profiles. This year we have quite a few large yellows. So, I’m looking to move load volume jumbo yellows in the Minneapolis, Chicago, and Milwaukee area.”
California Imperial Valley:
Jessica Peri with Yerington, NV-headquartered Peri & Sons said the El Centro crop has experienced a mild winter and will likely be early. “We could pack as early as April 15, which is about a week early,” she said. Acreage is steady, and the region will ship organic sweets, organic yellows, and organic reds as well as conventional sweets, yellows and reds.
California San Joaquin Valley:
Jessica Peri with Peri & Sons based in Yerington, NV, said the Firebaugh overwintered and intermediate onions have been planted, and the long days will go in next. “We had a mild winter,” she said of the area, noting the overwintered and intermediates will start in June and July, and the long days will start in August. All colors and sizes, as well as sweets and organics, will ship from the region.
Trish Lovell with Curry & Co. in Brooks said, “No changes in our program for this next year. Hoping volume and size will be back to normal.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, said on Feb. 28, “With the weather returning to normal temps, the planting dates will probably fall in line with years past planting timelines.”
James Johnson with Carzalia Valley Produce in Columbus told us Feb. 28 he has seen “100 percent emergence on our spring seeded, and the overwintered are waking up.” The crop is on time, he said, for season’s start the third or fourth week of May. “The weather recently has been pretty seasonable. We had some cold, but it has been welcomed.” James said precipitation is expected later in the week, but it’s also welcomed.
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission said on Feb. 28 he’s still two weeks away from his Texas 1015 deal kicking in. “It will be the middle of March,” he said, adding the crop looks great. “Everybody’s crop looks really good, no matter what part of the Rio Grande Valley you’re in. This is the healthiest overall crop I’ve seen in many years.”
Texas Winter Garden:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission said the Winter Garden area crop is likely to come in “a week or two later than last year,” adding, “There’s a lot of growing to be done between now and then.” David said with normal March-April heat, the crop will come off in late April or early May. And he said, “For us the season will run through June 10.”
Robert Sakata with Sakata Farms in Brighton north of Denver said on Feb. 28 he’s still about two weeks from planting, “at least.” Robert said, “we’ve had a few snow skiffs, and so it will be a couple of weeks minimum – mid-March – before we start.” Sakata Farms now raises yellow, white and red onions as its only vegetable crop, having dropped its longtime production of sweet corn this year. It also ceased broccoli and cabbage in recent years. Lack of labor was cited as the primary factor in dropping sweet corn.