Featured image: California Imperial Valley onions, courtesy of Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo, CA
We were grateful to hear from both Walt Dasher and Cliff Riner with G&R Farms in Glennville this week. Cliff said, “We have been harvesting at G&R farms since the first week of April. The Lord has blessed us with great weather, both cooler and dryer than normal.” He added that yields have been good, and quality has been “extremely good,” and he said, “Our size profile has been a high percentage of jumbos throughout the season and is finishing strong throughout our last fields we harvest.” Organics have also been great quality, he said. Walt said, “The goal is to wrap up the Vidalia harvest by Memorial Day. This is always dependent on weather, which looks to be good. The season and quality have been optimal, and we expect to have Vidalias available through August. Noting that G&R generally has Vidalias into late summer/early fall, Walt said, “We always plan ahead to start transitioning to the Peru season and have product available and ready to ship as we transition out of Vidalias so retailers and consumers can continue to take advantage of sweet onion availability.” And when asked about transportation, Walt noted, “Transportation continues to be a huge problem. Driver shortages and the unemployment crisis are impacting freight rates across the country – impacting not only pricing, but also causing shipping delays. Increases in fuel prices are also going to become an increased problem that will further put a strain on the industry.” Our thanks to G&R for the great Vidalia photos this week.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on May 19 his Rio Grande Valley deal would wrap up on May 20. He also said he’ll have whites from Mexico for another three weeks. “All’s good,” he said.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on May 19 the Quemado deal “just got started, and we have plenty of field and warehouse help.” He added that the region had “managed to avoid the inclement weather,” and harvest is going well. “We should be full speed on all three colors later this week,” with reds and yellows grown on the Texas side of the border and whites on the Mexico side. “We have a good mix of sizes,” David added, noting that “if we continue to have good weather, we should go June 15-20 with this deal.” He said demand is “very good, and the market is up a little.” On transportation he said, “We’re getting everything covered, but it’s a full-time job.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum told us on May 19 that demand is good this week. “Medium demand continues to be hot this week,” he said. “We are seeing increased demand for larger sizes, and that tells us that foodservice should be opening back up – and maybe things are starting to normalize.” Rick continued “The Northwest is wrapping up, and we have about 10 days to two weeks there. We are shipping onions out of Texas, but it is primarily Mexican onions. The Texas onions are for the most part done, due to the rain they had.” And, he said, “We are ramping up our shipments out of California. It’s mostly yellows, but we are adding more whites and reds. We will start New Mexico between June 5 to 10, which is pretty normal. Quality has been good, but buyers have to remember this is a summer crop. They don’t have the appearance of storage onions, and it seems I have to let them know every year.” When as about the market, Rick said, “You know, it’s actually been pretty steady. Freight sucks though. It’s the worst it’s been ever. And it’s every lane and everywhere. Fuel is up, and I think this freight thing is here to stay, so we better just get used to it.”
California Imperial Valley:
Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo said on May 20 it was his last day in the Imperial Valley, and he was headed home for a couple of weeks before harvesting the intermediate varieties in the Bakersfield area. “Harvest went smooth, except for trucks, which are still short,” he said. “We should have been done last week.” Robert continued, “Yields and quality have been good, and now we move and wait on the intermediates in Bako, which should be ready by mid-June or earlier, depending on the weather.” Our thanks to Robert for the great photos of the TS&L onion field day, as well as a couple from a trial in his field. Many thanks to Robert for sharing photos of Imperial Valley onions this week.
Megan Jacobsen with Gill’s Onions in Oxnard said on May 19 that “things are heating up in California.” She said the Brawley harvest started the week of April 15 and “is currently wrapping up,” adding, “The crop was strong and looked great this year.” Next, Megan said, is Bakersfield, which will start harvest mid-June and go through late August or early September. Megan sent great photos, with Imperial Valley shots from Joe Cardona with Rio Farms and Bakersfield shots her own taken during a filming session with Gills partners, Redzone Production Systems. Steve Gill is shown in the Bakersfield shots, and Megan said, “I love how Steve cuts open an onion every time and has everyone try fresh onions… eating fresh onions in the field is an experience.”
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing reported from his Walla Walla office on May 19 and said “Demand has been good this week. If you look at the stats, volumes are still moving at a pretty decent rate. We are wrapping things up as far as Northwest hybrids go, with some shippers looking at the end of May and the rest finishing up within the first two weeks in June. The market there is pretty flat, which is expected.” He continued, “Onion movement is now moving heavily out of California. Onions from Baja Mexico are moving up. As I said before, onions don’t really know borders. Texas is done for the most part. The recent rain has seen to that.” Dan also commented on the Southeast, saying, “We have good movement coming out of Vidalia. This is a very good crop with great quality. They will be done with fresh harvest there shortly, and they will have ample storage that should take them through August. All in all, things are moving along smoothly.”
Walla Walla, Washington:
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla told us on May 19 that the Walla Walla crop is progressing well. “We are on track for a mid-June startup,” he said. “The crop is in very good shape. Last year, we introduced our red Rosé Walla Wallas, which were a big hit, and this year, we have increased our acres. We are also very excited about our organic Walla Walla crop this year. We anticipate starting the organics in early July, and we expect a very good season.” Many thanks to Dan for sending recent photos of Walla Walla organics.