Featured image: New Mexico crop progress, courtesy of James Johnson with Carzalia Valley Produce in Columbus
Washington and Idaho-Eastern Oregon
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce reported from his Nyssa, OR, office this week. “The best word to describe demand this week is phenomenal,” he said. “It’s just a lot going on right now. The Food Box Program is really taking off. Buyers are getting a little worried about Texas, and things are opening back up from the pandemic, too. Yellows are definitely leading with medium demand and pricing being scorching hot. Jumbos are right behind. It’s a little tougher on colossals and supers.” Jason continued, “Quality continues to be absolutely exceptional out of Washington and Eastern Oregon. Transportation is absolutely awful for availability and rates, but you just have to pay the shot, and we are loading trucks when we can get ‘em.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Distributors in Payette, ID, told us on March 3 that demand is very good this week. “Business has really picked up,” Dan said. “We have demand for all sizes and colors, but medium yellows are the hot item right now.” He continued, “It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing that could be causing the sudden increase in demand. It could be the fact that some buyers had been holding out because of the high freight rates or maybe because of the gap in supplies down South. Of course, there is the Food Box program, too. Whatever it is, there has been a jump.” Dan noted the market is strengthening. “As demand is increasing, the market is in the moving up and should continue to do so,” he said. “Our quality is still in holding, so things are looking good.” On the transportation side, Dan said rates are still high. “We are still paying too much for trucks, but it looks like availability has opened up a little, and we’ve been able to find more trucks this week.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum reported from the ski slope this week. “Things are getting crazy this week,” Rick said. “It’s really picking up. We are moving onions out of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Mexico, and I have to say there are some beautiful whites coming out of Mexico and Idaho/Oregon.” When asked about the market, Rick said it’s “strong.” He said, “For some sizes, pricing is increasing faster, like on mediums. When mediums aren’t available, pre-packs are being used to fill the orders or small jumbos. Seriously, I can’t stress to buyers enough that you better watch your medium supplies and plan, plan, plan. Plan on shippers for availability, plan for packing and plan for freight. And I am talking weeks in advance.”
Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor told us on March 3 that demand is going “crazy” this week. “It’s a stellar week for the onion industry, I’ll tell ya!” Doug said. “Honestly, we are crazy busy. Prices on mediums are skyrocketing. Shippers can just about name their price. We have outstanding quality, and we’ll have availability into May. If you need onions, call me!”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on March 3 that his Mexico deal is going but not at full volume yet. He said, “Mexico is going for us, but it’s not real consistent right now with big volumes. I think in the week of March 8 we’ll be seeing more consistent volume and a steadier supply of all three colors.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, said on March 3 that his operation is “on the back side of the Tampico deal with only a few days of reds and yellows left.” He said he’ll have whites for another two weeks.
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on March 3 his younger onions are recovering from the recent freeze in Texas. “Our young stuff is rebounding nicely,” he said. He said inputs had been applied, and he noted, “The weather is perfect. It’s 80 today and in the 50s at night. The younger onions should bounce out of it fairly well.” He went on to say that the condition of the crop will become more evident as time goes on, noting, “As we go through March and get ready to start around the first of April, there are a lot of variables involved for growers.” Don Ed noted some growers haven’t been able to irrigate as much as they want due to drought conditions in the region, and conditions that could determine how much damage fields incurred can even include which direction the rows run. “All those factors will come into play,” Don Ed said. His own deal doesn’t include older onions, but he said, “Some people’s oldest onions haven’t survived. About a percentage of loss now, we don’t know. But I think in the end there will be some substantial losses.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission said on March 3, “We can see some varieties that fared better than others and some planting dates that were more heavily damaged than others.” He said damage could range from 10-20 percent up to 50 percent, adding, “I don’t think we’ll know the full extent of the damage until April 1. I don’t think the losses will be less than we thought two weeks ago. But knowing is better than not knowing. This has never happened before, and we didn’t know what it was going to be – but many plants are alive and are making a bulb. Now we wait and see what kind of leaf stem we’re left with.” David said harvest should start in late March.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission told us on March 3 the Wintergarden crop, which is set to come off between May 5-10, looks good. “We feel so fortunate,” he said. “We don’t think we’re going to see any losses. We might have a slight reduction in stands, but the onions there were very young and have bounced back up and are going.”
James Johnson with Carzalia Valley Produce in Columbus told us on March 3 that “all is good.” He said, “The fall-seeded crop is starting to come out of dormancy, and spring seeded are still being planted currently with early plantings already emerged to a stand!” James added, “Transplants are going in as fast as everyone in the area can go with the limited crews available.” Thanks to James for his great photo.