Featured image: Idaho-E. Oregon 2021-2022 season crop progress, courtesy of Tiffany Cruickshank with Snake River Produce in Nyssa, OR
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us on May 12 that things are picking up in the Imperial Valley. “Looks like South Texas is cleaning up, and so we are starting to get some good action in California,” Matt said. “There is a lot of demand for reds, and we have very good demand for medium, colossal, and supers on yellows. Jumbos are moving, and demand is starting to increase. Trucks are more plentiful this week too.” He continued, “The market seems to have begun to get its footing, and I think we’ll see some increases. The prices for our Northwest onions have dipped some, but we do want our customers to know we have quality onions coming out of Jensen’s in Warden, WA, through the end of the month.” Matt said that the North Carolina program will start Monday, May 17. “We had a bit of a delay due to rain, but our growers will harvesting tomorrow, and we’ll start shipping on Monday,” he said. “The crop is leaning more toward mediums, and so we’ll have some good onions for the retail side, and we’ll be packing direct from the farm out of our Raleigh facility offering 50-lb bags and retail packs.” When asked about any effects the Colonial Pipeline is having on their program, Matt said it does not have any on the onion transportation. “We have plenty of trucks to get our shipments out, and we don’t see any impacts on fuel,” he said. “On a personal note, while I have a fuel tank of gas, about 65 percent of North Carolina’s gas stations are out of gas due to panic buying. Deliveries are being made but not at the rate of normal, so people are hoarding, and it’s causing a problem.”
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported on his Imperial Valley deal with Troy Caston Farms on May 12. “Last week was a rough one,” John said. “We were rolling along the first part of the week, and then Thursday and Friday everything stopped. It’s not like we don’t have interest, but for one thing we don’t have trucks. And it’s not like we have rail down here. It’s trucks or nothing — and we don’t have any. Plus, we just have too many onions coming across from Mexico. With all of all of these imports, it’s hard to get a fair stake in the game. They hurt the pricing too. Between the imports impacting our prices and the lack of trucks, we are left to wonder, do we harvest, or leave them in the field? I mean we’re OK for a bit here, but we’re not like storage guys who can ride it out for longer periods of time. And as I said, we need trucks.” John added, “I guess we should be appreciating truck drivers more than we do because we are really in a bind. In the end, all I can do is stay positive and optimistic. We have great quality onions. We just need a break to blow them out of here at prices that can give my grower some good return.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce Company in Nyssa, OR, reported on the company’s sales in the Imperial Valley this week. “We have had good demand,” Jason said. “We are moving yellows, reds, and some whites. Colossals are tight, and we’re shipping mostly jumbos right now.” He continued, “The market needs to be a LOT higher than it is. It makes absolutely no sense at all to see it where it is. The Northwest is cleaned up, so pricing should be much better.” Jason said, “It has a lot to do with freight. Most of the freight companies I’ve talked to say it has a lot to do with getting bodies in the trucks to drive, and it could get worse if fuel prices go up with the Colonial deal. Gas companies will use anything to jack up the fuel prices if they can.” Thanks to Jason for sharing photos of Imperial Valley onions this week.
Robert Bell with Western Onion told us on May 12 he’s been “busy!” with harvest in the Imperial Valley. He said, “Trucks are very tight at all levels from field to shed, so we’re struggling getting all the onions harvested and put away.” Robert added, “Quality is good, and yields are excellent. We will finish our organic program Monday or Tuesday depending on trucks.” He continued, “We start in Arizona on Monday and Bakersfield the first or second week of June. Weather has been favorable, meaning not too hot ‘so far.’” And, Robert said, “Our New Zealand onions have been well received on the East Coast. The repackagers reportage recovery is excellent and we’re getting lots of reorders.” And, he echoed others when he said, “Just wish the market was stronger” Our thanks to Robert for great photos this week.
Texas Rio Grande Valley/Eagle Pass:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, told us on May 12 his operation is wrapping up the Rio Grande Valley deal this week and headed to Quemado and the Eagle Pass crop. “We have a little bit left here in the Valley,” David said. “We hope to start harvesting in Quemado on Thursday or Friday, and we’ll have everyone up there by the weekend. “First loads will go out Tuesday, and we’ll have all three colors at the start.” Quemado will run through mid-June, he said.
Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor, WI, told us on May 12 that demand has been steady. “Demand continues to be steady for us this week,” Doug said. “We continue to move medium yellows out of our cold storages with really good quality, and we will do so until around June 1.” He continued, “The market is steady right now, but transportation has been a ‘yo-yo’ and continues to affect pricing. We really haven’t had any effects of the pipeline shutdown because transportation is bad anyway.”
Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms told us on May 12 the 2021 crop is looking good for an early start. “We’re continuing to water and get through May,” he said. “We’re tentatively looking to start harvest June 3-4, and we’ll definitely be shipping by the second week of June. Everything is going well, and the onions are holding up nicely. The Walla Walla Rosé Sweet Onions are doing well and might be a little earlier as well.” He said the Rosé crop normally starts harvesting by July 4, and he added, “We’re hoping to have an early start for them, too.” The Walla Walla season “should run into mid-August,” Michael said. Thanks to Michael for sharing photos of his crop progress this week.
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us on May 12 that things the crop is progressing well for Billy the Kid in New Mexico. “Everything is coming along well in Deming and our target date for start up is June 1,” Matt said.
Our thanks to Tiffany Cruickshank with Snake River Produce in Nyssa, OR, for her shot of the 2021 crop. Onions growing and looking Sharp-ie!