Trent Faulkner with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, reported this week on L&M’s Warden operation, saying, “Demand has been good this week. There is a lot of conversation about whites. There are nearly no whites available, and the Mexican whites are $35 FOB out of Southern Texas. Some retailers can’t even merchandise Mexican onions, so it’s a big issue right now. Some are saying on the white market that potential relief may not be seen until June or July, and some say August.” He continued, “The market has strengthened too, increasing on medium yellows 50 cents to a buck, and we even pushed up on jumbo yellows to see what would happen. Reds are doing okay and considered steady.” Trent went on to say, “The market definitely has the potential to increase, particularly with Texas being three to four weeks out. I will say it definitely won’t go down.”
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from his Salem, OR, office on March 6 to say, “First off, it’s snowing here, and there is snow in the Columbia Basin too. Still, demand has been pretty good this week. It just depends on the day and the weather. Major roads are clear, but some smaller routes have snow, so it has had an effect.” John added, “I did receive word earlier in the week that our folks in the Columbia Basin had heavy volume ready to ship, so again it depends on the day. Since the demand is very good, the market is moving up and let’s face it; there hasn’t been enough volume to shake a stick coming out of Mexico. So good demand is likely to continue with continuing market increases too.” He said, “Regarding clean up, looks like most Northwest sheds will be finished by mid-April with larger sheds carrying over into May. And he noted about the Treasure Valley, “You know it looks like Idaho/Oregon isn’t going to have as many onions as they originally anticipated. On Texas, looks like they might get going around April 1, but acres are off down there, and some of the reported acres are in Winter Garden. We’ll have to see how it goes.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, told us March 6, “Demand is very good this week. We are busier this week than the past two weeks.” Steve said medium yellows “is still the size that is in the greatest demand,” adding, “Buyers are trying to get locked in on ad lids on medium yellows for the rest of March.” He said the market has been steady so far this week, and he said Baker & Murakami has “good availability on all yellows except mediums, good availability on reds, and we are done with whites for the season.” Steve said transportation is a mixed bag. “Railcars are very tight this week. We are getting our loads covered as needed so far with trucks,” he said. And when asked about sheds in the Treasure Valley finishing up for the season, he said, “We should start seeing a few sheds finishing up in the next few weeks.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, said on March 6, “Upward and onward, all things positive, opportunities abound, excited anticipation – any way you want to put it, all things look good for this market to continue to strengthen. Today for us we have been able to get $1 up on all yellow sizes compared to the prices we were getting last week at this time, and I don’t see any reason for that trend not to continue.” He said, “Medium yellows seem to be approaching double digits very rapidly and should get there before we know it given their scarcity – that is if we are marketing on supply and demand, verses traditions. Mexican onions continue to stay domestic and are fetching double or almost double of what we are getting for our growers domestically. Our quality remains the best in the world, and Mother Nature has dealt us very good temperatures to allow this to continue.” He noted that on the planting side, “Tractors and planters are ready, and we just need the soil conditions to get favorable enough to start our engines! Looks like it could be still a couple of weeks, depending on the forecast.”
Corey Griswold with ProSource and Golden West in Hailey and Parma, ID, told us March 6, “The remainder of the onions that we have in Idaho are cold storage onions and look exceptional. Currently, we are very busy, and the FOB market is responding positively. I think the yellow market is poised to see some fast-paced upward momentum in the next week. The red onion market should follow in the coming weeks as supplies fall off and some packing facilities end their seasons in Idaho/Oregon.” He continued, “From a supply standpoint we are well positioned to run into the second week of May with both reds and yellows and have a good overall size profile to look forward to as heading into the tail end of this storage season!” Thanks to Corey this week for supplying us with our featured image: Golden West CY cold storage onions.
Grant Kitamura with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, weighed in this week with a shipper status update. “It looks like many sheds are going to be finishing up here in the Treasure Valley in the next few weeks,” he said. “After that, there will only be a handful of sheds with open onions that will extend into May.”
John Harris with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Morgan told us on Monday, March 4, “I am expecting to see the white market continue to increase this week. Nevada and the Northwest are finished with open market whites and Mexico is 80 percent done with their crop at this point. We still have three weeks before Texas will have any supplies. Planning ahead is really important right now.” He added, “There are plenty of reds and yellows out there, although medium sizes are still relatively tight. We have a little of everything in Colorado, including whites. We also finally have some pack time available starting tomorrow.” On Wednesday, John updated, saying, “The white market continues to remain red hot. FOBs are $40 this morning in McAllen for Mexican product. The red price in the Northwest is starting to strengthen, and the glut seems to be nearing an end. Overall demand is picking up and prices are following along.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us March 6, “The market in Mexico has remained really active on yellows, and we’re getting some here but probably not enough.” He said the white market is also hot in that country, adding, “The Mexico deal doesn’t appear like it will amount to much for imports here. They’re selling the bulk of their crop down there, and so we’re awaiting the Texas onion crop.”
Rick Minkus with Minkus Family Farms in New Hampton reported to us at the end of his busy day on March 6. “Boy, we are really busy,” he said. “February was actually pretty good, but now that March is here, the orders have really taken off. Jumbo whites are in high demand and scarce, and medium yellows are hot. Retailers are ordering more, and the market is trending upward. Canada isn’t crossing anything and is basically a non-factor. Man, it’s going to get REEAAL interesting in this next month!” Rick said that quality is holding up well and transportation has been okay. “We had a little delay on the train due to Northwest weather, but that’s OK because we were clearing out our floor to start over with product for the increased March demand.” He also noted it’s going to be awhile for things to dry out in New York to plant, but Minkus hopes to start planting in April, which is normal for their operation.
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum, ID, told us on March 6 that the week has been very busy. “Currently I am moving onions out of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah,” Rick said. “Demand is much better than last week, and we’ve been very busy.” He continued, “Of course, whites are tight and in big demand, as well as all colors in mediums. I think the buyers have come to the realization that Mexico is just not coming. Mexican growers keep saying volume coming in two weeks, and then two weeks, but the producers we know down there are keeping it local, so that two-week statement is just not happening. And the quotes they are giving for Mexican jumbo yellows FOB out of S. Texas. is really high. So that helps our market stay strong. And you better hold on to those suspenders! Look for the move on the market coming next week. Probably, a move to $8.00 coming Monday with $.50 upward increments about every two days. Within the next three weeks, it’s going to be down to the big boys, and we’ll see what happens with the market then.” As far as transportation goes, Rick said it’s been good. “I have some great transportation partners, so we get the trucks when we need them,” he said, adding, “Rates are getting a little softer too.”
Trent Faulkner with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, provided an update and photos of his recent trip to Calipatria, CA. He told us on March 6, “We visited Calipatria last week and were able to view five plantings that were made over a six-week period. The week prior to our trip, the area had a bit of a cold snap but nothing that affected the onions, and we didn’t expect it would. When we were there, the weather was great, and the onions looked to be in very good condition. Based on the progress, we anticipate starting there April 20 with a goal to possibly start a little earlier. This year our Calipatria program includes 288 acres, 25 on whites, 35-40 on reds and the balance on yellows.”
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from his Salem, OR, office on March 6, “I am leaving for the desert in the morning. I plan on visiting with Troy Caston and looking to see how the Brawley fields are shaping up. What I do know is that the plants made it through the cold snap they had in the area with no problem. When Brawley got the cold weather, there weren’t enough leaves on the plants to sustain damage. Right now, the weather is very good and things are progressing well.” He concluded, “Overall, it looks like we are in a good position for our Imperial Valley season this year. There are less acres there and in fewer hands. Both very positive factors.”
Michael Locati with Pacific Agra Farms said on March 6 his region had been “getting a lot of snow for March,” and he added growers are eager to get into the fields. “We’re hoping to get back to work soon,” he said. The snow has covered the fall-seeded onions, but Mike said the ground was insulated by the snow when the cold weather hit. “Once we get to 50-55 degrees, we’ll know a lot more,” he said, adding that could come in the next week or so. “We’re waiting now to do our transplants and spring seeded,” he said. “Our timing with them is fine.” The Walla Walla season generally kicks off mid-June.
James Johnson with Carzalia Valley Produce in Columbus told us on March 6 the spring-seeded crop is emerging well. “It’s coming up nicely,” he said. “We’ve had about 10 days of good 70-degree weather, and things are starting to pop. The fall seeded onions are waking up, and we should finish our transplants today. I’m pleased with where we’re at now.” James said he’s still looking at the third week of May for the season to start.
TJ Runyan with Mesilla Valley Produce in Las Cruces told us on March 6 that the crew is just finishing plantings for July and August. “Our transplants are in and sticking, looking good to go,” TJ said. “We have really good weather, and we are very excited to get going this year. Our June stuff crop looks to be average, and we are looking forward to seeing how the spring weather helps the crop out.” He added, “We have made a few very minor changes to this year’s program, but for the most part, everything is about the same. So far, we are looking very good and excited for another great year!”
Corey Griswold with ProSource in Rincon, NM, told us on March 6 that production at Rio Valley in Rincon will begin “sometime between the last week of May and the first week of June 2019.” He said, “Our early onions (winter-overs) in New Mexico are currently slightly behind schedule, and we are anticipating yields to be off 20 to 25 percent on the early varieties. In my conversations that seems to be the general consensus across the field down there. Spring seeded and transplants are in the ground, and we are optimistic that both those crops finish strong!!” Corey went on to say, “Overall acreage at Lack Farms and Kit Farms is down slightly over last year, but we do have ample volume contracted with outside growers to ensure we also have ample volume to pack this season. We will have some white onion volume in the first week of May coming up from Mexico, and I am sure by then nice new crop whites are going to be a welcome sight.”
Corey also provided some great planting photos below:
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said the Texas crop is about two and a half weeks out, and with Mexico short, the 1015s are anxiously awaited. “We are looking at the week of March 21 to clip, and we should have some to sell on March 25. We’ll know a lot more next week,” he said. The crop, he added, “looks really good.”
Corey Griswold with ProSource in Hailey, ID, told us on March 6, “We are shooting for an April 1 start of harvest in South Texas.” He added, “That may be delayed slightly as we get closer, depending on the status of the crop in the field. Volume will be light out of the gates and gradually ramp up around the week of April 7, and by April 15 we anticipate being in full swing. In Uvalde, Winter Garden is looking at a slow start up on or around April 22 and should be in full swing by the first week of May. While we do not anticipate a bumper crop in Texas, we are on track to have ample volumes and are anticipating a very solid market for the duration of the season from both South Texas and Uvalde.” Corey said, “If both crops finish strong in the coming weeks and the weather cooperates, we anticipate a good overall size profile from both areas.”