Featured image: Crop progress courtesy of Hugo Flores with Organic King in La Paz, Mexico
Trent Faulkner with L&M Companies in Raleigh, NC, told us on March 30 that demand has slowed a bit this week. “With more Mexican onions coming on, demand has slowed up a bit,” he said. “Part of the issue is buyers are looking for all three colors in one ride, and Mexico has that. We are shipping yellows and reds, and while we can get whites, some buyers are going to Mexico if they need all colors. That said, we haven’t come off our pricing. We really don’t need to.” Trent continued, “There are some deals being made out of Texas for the Mexican onions. When those onions are harvested, they need to move because they won’t last long, but we don’t feel the need to drop our prices. We’ll be servicing our customer contracts and have open market onions until we switch to California so we don’t gap.” On freight, Trent said it’s about the same. “Diesel has gone up, but inflation had already impacted freight, and everyone has already accepted high freight rates, so we don’t hear complaints.”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, told us on March 30, “Idaho demand for storage crop out of cold storage is decent with pricing still advantageous for buyers profitability and grower returns.” And, he said, “California new crop start will be cranking up volume a week after Income Tax Day.” Chris added, “As we transition between storage crop and new spring crop, the area here is in the midst of planting onions. For next season here’s hoping weather and water will be nice to us.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, weighed in on March 30 to tell us, “No reason to be in ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ mode as we wind up the Northwest crop in the next few weeks. Looks like we will call it quits next week or so here, leaving a gap before we have stuff available in California.” He continued, “National shipment numbers remain at levels we have experienced all year, except fewer people are marketing than ever, less Northwest crop than ever, but lower prices than we have experienced in months. It would make me pull my hair out if I had any! No question all of us thought that this market would be double what it is now. The one thing you can count on is you can never count on, you just never know what people on the desks will do or how many will roll across the southern border.” And, Dwayne said, “What we do know on our farms is it is dry, expenses are at insane levels and lower double digits doesn’t cut it anymore on the market. With our water shortages, I would suspect onions will get priority and other crops will either not get planted or be abandoned if necessary. Most growers are tied to onion infrastructure. That infrastructure has to be utilized, there will be onions to go in those buildings and across those lines.”
Mike Davis with Tex-Mex Sales, LLC in Weslaco, TX, reported in on March 30. “Demand is a little off this week,” he said. “I think when buyers saw Mexico prices dip last week, they decided to hold off to see what happens. I do think that volume out of Mexico will drop off the week after next.” He continued, “Now, our Texas stuff is flying out the door. There are some buyers that just want Texas onions. We are watching our fields and making decisions for harvest based on our customers’ needs, but I do foresee us picking up more Texas volume over the next two weeks. I also see demand picking up as well.” Mike continued, “With Easter around the corner restaurants are going to increase their volume, and consumers are planning for Easter, too, but if buyers don’t buy next week, they may not get onions in time for Easter –so next week should be busy.” On quality, Mike said both Texas and Mexico onions have had great quality. “This year the quality for Mexico and Texas has been excellent. We’ve been very pleased with what we are shipping this season.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on March 30 he was super busy this week. “Mexico has about 10 days more,” he said. “Right now we have all three colors, and we’re about to run out of whites and reds.” He said he’s clipping Rio Grande Valley reds now, and the first loads will ship on Monday. “The yellows are about a week out,” Don Ed said. “So we’ll start with those and transition out of Mexico.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on March 30 the market had eased a bit, but movement and quality remained quite good. “The weather has been perfect,” he said. And David added, “We’re shipping all three colors out of Texas now, and our yields are twice what they were last year.” He said both transportation and labor are “steady as she goes,” adding, “It’s just the time of year for very long days.”
Hugo Flores with Organic King in La Paz, Mexico, told us on March 30, “Demand is still holding up very well. Fortunately, quality at fields is excellent.” He added, “This last week the climate at Tamaulipas has gotten increasingly warmer. Much of the supply from our region will be over soon, and we expect a supply shock in which those with produce like us will keep seeing strong prices. We still have at least six weeks ahead.” Our thanks to Hugo for the great photos.
Imperial Valley, California:
Trent Faulkner with L&M Companies in Raleigh, NC told us on March 30 that the company’s Calipatria operation should start packing around April 25. “We’ll have our sales office fully staffed on April 18, and we will probably start up around the 22nd to get all the kinks out,” he said. “Then by the 25th we should be packing and ready to go full steam. The crop looks very good and the area has had great growing weather this season. We should have good sizing, which is typical for the area. We don’t normally have too many small onions like pre-packs coming out of our Calipatria operation.”
Mike Smythe with West Valley Packing told us on March 30, the crop is running a week later than expected. “We hope to start 4/20-ish, with all 3 colors the week of April 25th,” Mike said. “We hope to start organics around the same time. To complement our conventional/organic onion program, we will also ship conventional/organic red and yellow potatoes from the same facility. We are rolling out SpringFresh label for our organic onion program, and we will ship organic onions thru the end of June out of El Centro.” Mike commented on the size profile of this year’s crop. “Sizing in Imperial valley appears to be mostly jumbo, colossal, and supers. I expect mediums to be tight on all 3 colors.” Mike also noted some program changes this season. “We took on more private label business this season,” he said. “And we expect to ship fewer onions to the east coast. Truck rates and the tightness of trucks make for a larger risk shipping onions.”
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said his Colorado growers are planting now and expect to have their onions in the ground by April 5. “They are expecting the same water allocation as last year,” he said.
Eagle Pass, TX:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on March 30 the Eagle Pass-Wintergarden area crop is running “probably a week to 10 days ahead of last year, which gives us a May 1 start date.”