Featured image: Walla Walla, WA crop progress, photo courtesy of Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms
Brad Sumner with Pacific Coast Trading in Portland told us on May 3 that demand “is great.” He said, “I just wish we had more red organic onions. If I had just a little more pile of red organics, I would not have to short orders and upset buyers.” He continued, “Reds are rocking – only if, only if the quality is there. Great sales only happen if you have arrival quality” When asked if he was seeing more onions out of Cali as other areas slow down, Brad said, “We have a few onions left out of the Northwest, but only yellows. California has started slowly and cautiously on organics; quality issues are out there, but true volume in the shed to pack is not there yet for optimal shipping and covering of orders.” And he noted about organic sweets, “We will have organic sweet Vidalias available end of next week. Brawley will have sweets available next week as well.” Regarding the market, he commented, “The red market is up; yellow market is down; white and sweet market steady as she goes.” Quality is key, and he said, “Northwest onions are filling orders but are tired and sprouting. The NEW CROP short-day onion crop is ugly as … but in my opinion, if you take it, they are the best eating onions out there. I love to cook these short-day onions on the grill! Any color!” And transportation, Brad said, is pricey. “The transportation costs from Brawley to LA are ridiculous! Use to be $900 got you a truck Brawley to LA. Now you have to pay $1,500 to $2,200. I hope it cools off, but bottom line we need the trucks, so we’ll pay it!”
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us on May 3 that the company’s program in Jensen, WA, is finishing. “Except for a few odds and ends, we are finished,” he said. “This is early for us, but that’s also good because it allows our growers to focus on the off-season activities that need to be done.” He continued, “Our Calipatria deal has started, but we have yet to pack at full capacity. The cooler weather set us back about five to eight days, but the onions coming out of the field have excellent quality. Because we have been slow to get going, demand is outpacing supply. We are running at about 80 percent of what we could be doing, and we are sold out for today and tomorrow. I’m not sure what the availability will be for Friday.” Matt said, “We are seeing a smaller sizing out of the gate, but we are shipping all colors and sizes. We should be able to ramp it up with increased volume next week. When asked about the market, Matt said it’s strong. “The market has definitely firmed up,” he said. “It is strong right now and we’re in a good spot.” On transportation, Matt said L&M hasn’t had any problems. “Trucks have been easy to find,” he said. “Now that could change with the Mother’s Day holiday, but currently we aren’t having any problems at all.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum, ID, told us on May 3 that his team is moving onions out of Idaho, Washington, California, Texas, Arizona and Georgia. “We are pulling onions out of the region that makes the most sense for the receiver,” Rick said. “We have ample supplies of jumbo and medium yellows to move, but whites are tight, and we are having a hard time finding pre-packs and colossals and supers this week too.” He continued, “Quality is good, but these are just starting up, and it is a summer onion, so everyone knows what to expect. Demand is good. Nothing hot, just normal movement.” When asked about the market, Rick said, “It’s steady. With the current availability, the market has firmed up, and it is strong and steady right now.” On transportation, Rick noted it’s been easy. “We haven’t had any problems booking trucks,” he said. “It might get harder as we get into summer, but it’s easygoing right now.”
Imperial Valley, CA:
Megan Jacobsen with Gills Onions in Oxnard let us know on May 3, “Harvest has started.” Pictures are from Brawley, and our thanks to Jose Cardona with Rio Farms for the great shots.
Click images to enlarge.
Paul Reeping with Riverfront Produce in Payette, ID, weighed in on May 3. “We have about another week to go,” Paul said. “Our quality remains good, and we are still shipping yellows and reds in all sizes,” he said. “Demand is high and exceeds availability, but the market impacts the buyers’ activity. The market is steady, firm, and volatile all at the same time. Consequently, a buyer needing five loads may only buy three loads because they want to see where the market lands and where they may end up sourcing their onions. It’s a quagmire.” On transportation, Paul noted no problems. “It’s been smooth,” he said. “We haven’t had any issues at all booking trucks.”
Winter Garden, TX:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen told us on May 3 that the Eagle Pass/Coahuila crop will start shipping next week. “We’ll have all colors,” David said, adding sizing is trending to jumbos.
Texas Rio Grande Valley/Mexico:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on May 3 he’ll be finishing his Rio Grande Valley deal soon. “It’s winding down rapidly,” he said, adding that his last fields are showing good quality and size. And he noted that the market is firming up as the Northwest also winds down and California spools up. “The onion market is in good shape and looks like it could get better around the corner,” he said. Don Ed also said his last loads from Torreón are being shipped, and Chihuahua is expected to some in the middle of next week and run through mid-to late June.
New Mexico/Bakersfield, CA/Washington:
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us on May 3 that the company’s deal in New Mexico should get started around May 25. “Billy the Kid’s crop is shaping up nicely, and everything is set to go,” Matt said. “Our crop in Bakersfield also looks good, and we should start shipping out of the shed there in mid-June. The first round of planting went really well, and we expect very good onion quality. We are waiting to see how the second plantings turn out as we had cooler temps. We are monitoring how those onions will finish.” Matt said their grower in Washington has all of their onions in the ground. “Jensen Farms in Warden was fortunate to have good plating weather, and their onions are all in,” he said. “So we are looking at an Aug. 1 start date – just 90 days away, if you can believe it. The onions are coming up, and everything is a go in Warden.”
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on May 3 his Colorado and Utah growers are all in, and he noted, “Everything is looking good.”
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, told us on May 3 that his Delta, CO, growers have finished planting and on track for a normal start of around Labor Day.
Paul Reeping with Riverfront Produce in Payette, ID, told us on May 3 that his grower owner has made progress on planting. “We are about 70 percent all in,” he said. “We are going hard, and we should be completely planted within the next two weeks. The onions are growing, and everything looks good.”
Walla Walla, WA:
Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms said on May 3, the Walla Walla crop “finally got some heat.” He added, “We’re moving now.” Michael said the season could kick off mid-June, and he said, “We just need more heat and to keep irrigating.” Our thanks to Michael for the great photo.