Featured image: Walla Walla onions, courtesy of Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms in Walla Walla, WA
Danny Ray with Ray Farms, Inc in Glennville, GA, told us on May 26 that his family finished harvest on May 21. “Now that harvest is finished, we’ll have about another week to a week and a half of our fresh Vidalias, and then we will move into our storage stuff,” he said. “Demand has been very good. We had a lot of orders last week for the holiday, and sales must have gone well because they came back again this week for last-minute orders for the weekend.” Danny noted that red onions sales have been extremely good. “Our medium reds have been a really hot item. In fact, with the exception of a few jumbos, we’ll probably wrap up our red shipments in a week or so.” Marketwise, Danny said it’s been steady. “Of course, everyone always wants more, he said, “But the market’s been steady – as long as we can get a truck. We’ve had to deal with reduced labor and freight issues, but we’ve been blessed with a good crop and a good season so far. So, we really don’t have anything to complain about.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley/Wintergarden:
Our friends with the Texas International Produce Association, TIPA, provided us with an update on May 26. “The Rio Grande Valley is approaching its final weeks,” the report said. “Scattered thunderstorms have delayed harvest and outbound trucks, but the weather has cleared up as of last Thursday, and people are back in the fields and trucks are moving again. As the valley cleans up, we will be looking for the Uvalde/Winter Garden area to pick up steam and increase production quickly. Warm weather ahead will continue to keep the crop looking great. Expect plenty of jumbos and mediums moving forward.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on May 26 his deal is going “full steam” in Quemado/Eagle Pass. “We have all three colors in a good range of sizes, heavy to jumbos,” he said. The deal generally runs into mid-June, with the reds and yellows grown on the U.S. side of the border and the whites grown in Mexico. David said quality is great, and he noted there is “plenty of help” with the harvest and packing. “Trucks are available as well,” he said.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on May 26 he finished with the Texas Rio Grande Valley deal and now moving only whites out of Chihuahua, Mexico. “We finished in Texas and also finished the Torreón white deal,” he said. “We’re still bringing in the whites out of Chihuahua, and the quality is very, very good. We have about another three weeks in that deal.”
Imperial Valley, CA/New Mexico/North Carolina:
Trent Faulkner with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, reported on May 26. “I just returned last Sunday from a four-week sales stint at our Imperial Valley, CA, operation,” Trent said. “Though today sales have slowed down, last week and the first part of this week, demand picked up over the previous two weeks. I think a lot of that had to do with the truck situation. Don’t get me wrong, rates are still bad, but it seems just a little easier to get a truck – and now they are now showing up when they say they will.” He continued, “Basically, if you can get a truck, you have an order. Lately it’s been better getting those trucks rolling, and prices reflect that too.” When asked how long L&M will be shipping out of the Imperial Valley, Trent said until about the first week of June. “Depending on how demand goes, we’ll be shipping out of Calipatria until at least June 4 or 5. We could be there until the 7th or 8th before we move north to Bakersfield and over to Billy the Kid’s in Deming, NM.” Trent added, “We are also shipping out of North Carolina. Our largest grower is just getting ramped up there and will start Monday. He’ll be picking up the pace beginning June 1, we should start shipping three or four loads a day. We’ve had a lot of interest in these onions out of North Carolina. The freight advantage going into Florida and north is huge, but we just now starting to get going there.”
Imperial Valley, CA:
Mike Smythe with West Valley Packing and Joe Heger Farms in El Centro told us on May 27 that they had some mild weather all season which was a plus for the onions. “we have some heat coming next week,” he said. “We started our intermediate onions this week and the size profile is the same as past seasons. We ran a good amount of medium yellow and red onions today; the size profile will increase as we move thru the season.” He went on to say, “We will ship all 3 colors plus sweets out of El Centro thru mid-June.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, reported on May 26 that demand has been steady. “Demand has been good this week, but we haven’t seen a huge jump for the holiday,” he said. “There is pretty good money on mediums, but overall the market is only as good as the trucks you find. The bottom line is freight continues to be brutal.” He continued, “We will be shipping out of the Imperial Valley for the next week, and then we will be moving everything over to New Mexico.”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, said on May 26 the S. California deal rocks on. “We’re using California desert this week and next,” Chris said. “At the end of next week, we will be creeping up to Mid-Central Cali.” Chris said Owyhee will move onions out of California until the new Idaho-E. Oregon crop starts in early August.
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on May 26 his Colorado deal with two longtime growers in Delta, CO, is progressing, with a traditional harvest around Labor Day expected.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on May 26 his Olathe, CO, grower reports that the crop is looking good, and his Corinne, UT, growers report this year is showing great stands. Colorado comes in late August-early September, and Utah starts shipping their onions in October.
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, said the Treasure Valley crop is coming along well. “We had some much-needed rain last couple days in IEO,” he said on May 26. “The weather will be warming up for the Memorial Weekend, and bees will be busy pollinating the crop up here.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, told us on May 26 that the crop progress in Eastern Oregon is coming along nicely. “The weather has been good recently,” he said. “We’ve had some rain, and it came just at the right time. The crop looks great!”
Our thanks to Tiffany Cruickshank and Kay Riley at Snake River Produce in Nyssa, OR, for Idaho-E. Oregon photos this week. Great shots!
Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms in Walla Walla said on May 26 the countdown is on for start of the new season. “The crop looks good,” he said, noting the start date is still anticipated for mid-June for the traditional Walla Walla Sweets, and the red variety, Walla Walla Rosé Sweet Onions will start shipping a bit later. “The weather has been dry,” he said, noting the high summer temps are setting in. “The heat could help the crop along,” he said. Michael also said labor looks to be adequate. “We seem to have a good crew signed up,” he said. Our thanks to Michael for outstanding photos this week!