Featured images: El Centro, CA crop progress, courtesy of Mike Smythe and West Valley Packing, photos by Jesus Macias, Production Manager
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported in from his Salem, OR, sales office on March 15. “Demand has been slightly off this week,” he said. “The good news is that my customers that are buying Washington onions from me have stuck with me through the new crop starting up, and as long as I am shipping Washington, they will stay with me. And they will be sticking with me when California starts up too.” John continued, “This week, buyers seem to be looking for mostly jumbo yellows. Jumbo reds have slowed up just a little, and whites seem to be going mostly in mixers. Texas is shipping sweets, but quite a few nice sweets are still coming out of Washington, and I am continuing to move those. Pricing seems to be holding for Washington product, but with more Mexican onions crossing, it could have an impact on the onion market as a whole. That said, the quality of the onions coming out of Washington remains very good.” He said transportation is no problem. “Trucks have been easy to get, and I am still overloaded with broker calls every day. If you continue to use the same folks you’ve used for the last 20-30 years, you’re in great shape.” John ended his report with a note to the onion industry: “With all the bank troubles and wars we are dealing with and every other disaster playing out in the media, it can get depressing. I think all we can do is focus on what we can control; keep working hard to bring food to the people and do what we can to keep our industry alive and well.”
Paul Reeping with Riverfront Produce in Payette, ID, told us on March 15 that demand is slightly off this week. “Colossal demand seems to be the hot ticket this week, and we do have availability,” he said. “There is demand for medium yellows too, but other than that, overall demand seems to be a little off. Buyers are looking around for deals. In turn, that makes for a volatile market.” Paul added, “Where Riverfront’s concerned, we have excellent quality and will be shipping into April.” When asked about transportation, Paul said he’s been able to get trucks. “It seems like availability might be tightening up, at least trucks to the East Coast. But we’ve been able to get them, so it’s not a huge deal.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Eagle Eye in Payette, ID, told us on March 15 that demand is good for what his company is shipping. “We will be shipping out of Idaho-E. Oregon through the end of the month, and for what we are trying to move, demand is good for our company,” he said. “This week, buyers seem to be looking for the big stuff; jumbo reds and yellows, plus colossals.” When asked about the market, Dan said, “Onion regions are making a transition, and with all the southern imports and Texas starting up, it makes for a volatile market.” Dan said on transportation, “A few weeks ago, it was a few days before trucks were getting in to pick up their loads, but that’s not the case now. Things seem to be running very smooth, and getting trucks is easy now.”
Chris Woo weighed in on March 15 and told us, “Demand this week has been fairly moderate with the market holding steady.” He continued, “We haven’t encountered our run for Easter yet. Right now we’re just concentrating on getting orders out for St. Patrick’s Day corn beef customers and also Ramadan.” Chris concluded, “You will see in the next week, or so more sheds will be dropping out of the run list as they finish for the season.”
Mike Davis with Tex Mex Onion Sales LLC in Weslaco, TX, told us on March 15 that his team is moving all sizes and colors out of Mexico and 1015s out of Texas. “We have all colors and sizes from colossal down moving out of Mexico, and we are packing cartons on our 1015s right now out of Texas crop and will add whites and reds over the next week to two weeks,” he said. “The onion quality is excellent in both areas. Anytime you don’t have any problems, you are in great shape; we are in great shape! The market is in good shape, better than we were a couple of weeks ago. It has stabilized. Demand is good this week as well. We are definitely staying busy.” When asked about transportation, Mike said, “It has been fairly normal. We’re getting the trucks we need, and we haven’t seen any spikes in rates, which is good.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, told us on March 15 the Tampico deal is still going well as it starts to slow in the northern areas. “The market is steady, and both quality and the weather are good,” he said. “We’re still shipping all sizes and colors, and I think we’ll be at about this level for the remainder of March. Then we’ll see how the transition goes to S. Texas. I don’t see how the total supply out of Mexico and S. Texas combined will change over the next 30 days. Mexico will fall off, and Texas will pick up.” David said Southwest Onion Growers will start shipping out of the Rio Grande Valley at the end of March. “Texas is on time, and everything is beautiful,” he said.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on March 15 the Tampico deal is starting to wind down, with prospects good for a smooth transition to the Rio Grande Valley. “We’re rolling right along,” he said. “One shed in Mexico will finish this week, and another will finish up in about 10 days to two weeks, which is perfect because we’re about that long from having Texas yellows and reds. So we’re winding down in Mexico, and it looks like a seamless transition to Texas around the end of next week.” Don Ed said current pricing is stable, noting, “It’s getting a little better on whites.”
Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor reported in on March 15, saying demand has increased. “We have been very busy this week,” Doug said. “Our buyers are looking for primarily medium yellows, and we’ve been able to keep our pricing up. And we anticipate the market to increase in the coming weeks.” He continued, “Our quality has been excellent, and because we’ll have everything in cold storage, we plan to keep shipping into July.” Doug noted transportation has been good for Gumz, saying, “Trucks have been readily available, so we’re in good shape there.” He also mentioned Gumz’s plans for expansion. “Last fall we installed an electric grader, and this year we will be expanding the packing shed with a 250×100-ft. packing space, which we are very excited about.” Doug also gave us a recap on the recent NOA trip. “We had a very successful NOA trip to DC,” he said. “There were 16 members in attendance during the four-day visit, and it was encouraging to see so many young onion farmers in attendance. They could see how much power an organization has versus an individual when it comes to making our voices heard in Washington. I hope they will return to their respective regions and encourage other farmers to take advantage of these opportunities.”
Colorado Western Slope/Corinne, UT:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on March 15, weather has kept his Olathe, CO, and Corinne, UT, growers from planting their 2023 onions. “It’s just been too cold and wet,” he said about conditions affecting much of the west. “They’re lined up to plant but just can’t get into the fields.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on March 15 his growers in Delta, CO, are also being kept out of the fields by lingering cold weather. “They still can’t get tractors into the frozen ground,” David said.
Chris Woo told us on March 15 that Mother Nature continues to be obstinate. “Weather-wise, it’s been drizzly and overcast the last few days. The forecast for the rest of the week is clear and dry. Growers are waiting patiently to start spring work and planting when it gets dry.” He said the protracted winter weather has its silver lining: “We have more than adequate snowpack and groundwater for this year’s crop. Happy St. Paddy’s Day.”
El Centro, CA
Mike Smythe with West Valley Packing reported in on February 15, saying the Imperial Valley is the only area in California not getting rain. “We did get some 80-degree days this week, then back to the ’70s,” Mike said. “Temps are lower than normal for this time of year; we expect onions to start later than normal. We project the week of April 23rd.” Mike added, “Our flat sweet yellow program looks good; the flat reds are sizing well. We expect to ship flats into June this season. The crop looks good, and we are getting some sizing.” He continued, “Red onions are coming on. Overall, the onion crop in Imperial valley looks solid.” Many thanks to Mike for sending photos this week; he credits the photos to Jesus Macias, Production Manager at West Valley Packing. Click the images to enlarge.