Featured image: Imperial Valley, CA onions, courtesy of Jake Jueney with L&M Companies
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from his Salem, OR, office on March 11. “I’m not going to lie – business is off some,” he said. “We are moving plenty of onions, but it’s not overwhelming. Seems like there is quite a bit of small stuff out there and a good amount of reds.” He continued, “There is a bright spot with definite higher pricing on the big stuff, and it seems like Idaho is getting good prices on those because they are the ones that have the big onions right now.” John said, “The market’s not great, but it has leveled off. If you’re buying onions and you’re getting really good onions at these prices, you should be pretty happy.” On transportation, John said, “If you are getting more calls from freight companies than what you need, I think it’s safe to say that transportation’s not an issue.” John added that his growers are getting in the fields. “Doesn’t look like they’ll have to deal with another planting season like they had last year,” he said. “I know that they are working to get out there, and it won’t be long until all the Northwest guys are heavy into planting.”
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, said on March 11 his operation is cleaning up for the 2019-20 season. “It will take most of next week to get everything gone, but we ended up with a home for everything,” Herb said. “In this coming week I think we’ll see more sheds cleaning up, with about eight to 10 of us gone.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce in Payette, ID, told us on March 11 that demand has been steady. “Demand is good,” he said. “It’s not like people are beating our doors down, but orders have been about right since we are working to manage our supplies for the balance of the season. Yellows are moving well, and we have been pushing reds out the door. Demand for whites has fallen off, but that’s fine with us since our supplies are pretty low.” Dan said he would describe the market as steady. “It’s not great or anything, but it has leveled off,” he said. When asked about quality, Dan said that Central is working through the last of it. “It’s no surprise that we have to put in more time on production since we’ve been doing it all season, but our quality remains good.” On transportation, Dan noted that they are getting all the trucks they need. “No issues with transportation – it’s all good there,” he said. “We’ve been talking about when we are going to finish up, and we are looking at a few more weeks. In the meantime, we’ve had a couple of our growers planting. It’s not a huge amount, but they are getting out there,” Dan said.
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission told us on March 11 he’s shipping small volumes of 1015s now and will have all colors and all packs next week. As Mexico winds down, the Rio Grande Valley will ramp up, he said. OnionBusiness thanks David for sending along these beautiful photos of Texas Onions.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on March 11 he’s had a few customers had reported a slowing down in business with some schools and universities closing due to the Coronavirus. “The media haven’t done us any favors by sensationalizing it,” he said. But Don Ed noted demand was good on Wednesday, saying, “It’s grown, and it feels a little bitter here. The supply out of Mexico is consistent with 60-90 loads a day. Quality and weather are good.” He said there are some flat onions coming out of Mexico, although the Peru deal is still going. “We’ve had good activity on flat cartons,” he said.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, said on March 11 he has “about 10 days left with Mexico, and then we’ll start getting really busy with Texas.” David said the quality throughout the Mexican deal has been “very nice,” adding, “We still have all sizes and colors.” The market, he said, “is steady.” He said, “Some days are a little firmer, but we’re not seeing any more days of weaker. Hopefully it’s leveled off and inching back up. And there are days when multiple shippers run out of product and have to scramble – but that’s not every day, and not every shipper.”
Cliff Riner with G&R Farms in Glennville, GA, told us March 11 that operation is shipping Peruvian onions now, and he said, “We expect to bridge the gap to our Georgia Sweets” in mid-April.
Imperial Valley, California:
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms told us on March 11 that things are going well for the crop in the “desert,” saying, “I have been on the phone with Troy (Caston) every day, and the crop is coming along. They got about an inch of rain this week, and so they are getting out there to spray. But they’re far enough along that a little rain isn’t going to do much.” John continued, “They are past the freeze time now, but they’re looking at 60-degree temps for the next week. So the onions caught up and now might slow down a little.” He said, “They look really nice, and they definitely won’t have the seeders like they did last season. Of course, everything depends on Mother Nature, but we’re still planning for an April 20 start date.”
Jake Jurney with L&M Cos. reported in this week from Calipatria to say, “The crop is looking great at this point. Temperatures have been a little cool, but as of Tuesday it’s been 80 degrees every day. With that kind of weather these babies will start growing like crazy.” Jake added, “At this point, we’re still right on schedule to start at our normal time. We’ll start harvesting somewhere around April 20 and be ready to pack about five or six days after that. We’ll have reds and yellows to start right away, and then whites will follow shortly after. The stand is great so far.” Thanks to Jake for sending us photos of the Calipatria, CA onions.
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, said on March 11 the shed’s growers are “50 percent planted, and the conditions in the field are very good.” He said the area could use some rain. The 2020 program will see the same acreage planted, with “a few less whites and reds but the same in yellows.” Herb said additional growers have been added, many of whom are second- and third-generation farmers.
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on March 11, “There are not a whole lot of onions ready this month. There are a few, but we’re continuing to irrigate, and then will be big when we do run them.” He said he expects to be shipping the last week of March.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission said on March 11 the Wintergarden crop is still two months out and is progressing normally. “They’ve had normal weather all through this cycle,” he said.
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, said he’s working with one central shed and two growers, Ahlberg Farms and Hines Farms, in the Delta area of Colorado’s Western Slope this year. “The growers are in the fields working the ground and are schedule,” he said. “They’ll start planting the end of March, and they’ll have water for irrigation April 1.” David said the 2020 program will have a few more white acres and white volume.
Cliff Riner with G&R Farms in Glennville, GA, said on March 11 the Georgia Sweet and Vidalia crops are coming along well. The early Georgia onions are expected to start mid-April, he said. “We are assessing maturity, and the forecast is for warmer weather. There’s no indication it will be later than mid-April.” He said quality looks good, and the Georgia Sweets should gain sizing over the coming weeks. “They are bulking heavily right now,” he said. G&R’s organic onions are also coming along, and Cliff said because they mature somewhat later than the Georgia Sweets, they are in the Vidalia Sweet Onion time frame. The announcement from Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture as to the official Vidalia start date is expected to be made in the next 10 days, Cliff added.