California Imperial Valley:
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, said on May 5 his company had recently finished out its 2020-21 shipping season from the Treasure Valley. “We just got done with shipping in Idaho/Oregon cold storage onion crop for the year and have moved our customer base to new crop from California,” he said. “Quality is good, and we’re shopping all colors through the month of May.” And in recognition of the day’s festive significance, he said, “After work I’m going to have a margarita and maybe attend a piñata party. Happy Cinco de Mayo.”
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos in Raleigh, NC, told us on May 5 that their Warden, WA, operation has about a month left to ship. “Quality has been absolutely fantastic this season, and it still very good right now,” Matt said. “We have a lot of jumbo yellows and reds left to ship and a few mediums left, too. Demand for Washington is waning some, but buyers in Canada, the Northwest, and the Midwest are sticking with Washington due to freight – and as I said, the quality is very good.” Matt said that L&M’s California shipper is running full steam. “We’re wide open in California,” he said. “We are packing all colors, and it’s a typical California crop. The size profile is big, and quality is very good. Demand is decent, but it could be better.” Matt continued, “Freight is killing us. It’s a daily struggle. Maybe not even daily – hourly. Prices could be better, too. I think we need to get further into the season to see how it all comes together, and I think we’ll see some increases.”
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms in Salem, OR, reported from the Imperial Valley on May 5. “I am still selling product from the Northwest,” he said. “They still have some quality onions to sell, and they also have some loyal customers that want to stick with them until the end of their season, so I am happy to work with them so those customers can get what they need. Some of these guys will go until the last part of May.” John said that the first week of Troy Caston’s Imperial Valley deal went smoothly. “We are getting good demand out of the gate,” he said. “Reds have been very active, and whites are starting to get active as well. We are seeing more demand for colossals and supers, too. Sadly, the market is typical for an Imperial Valley start-up, and we also have to remember that things tend to slow down after Mother’s Day. Still, I have a good feeling about this season for the desert. I feel like things are opening back up, and I feel chipper about things moving forward.”
We caught up with our friend Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce on his way to California this week. “I am headed to California to check out our deal there,” he said on May 5. “We are going full steam down there, packing all three colors and sizes. Demand for California onions has been good. Reds are tight, but we have plenty of yellows and whites.” He continued, “I have to say, I am really disappointed with the market on the California onions. It’s soft. It doesn’t make sense. With the Northwest cleaned up, for the most part, it shouldn’t be as soft as it is.” Jason said Eagle Eye’s Eastern Oregon operation is cleaned up for the season. “We are finished in Nyssa, but I am selling open onions out of Washington through Friday. We have mostly jumbo reds and yellows, and demand has been very good.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley/Mexico:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on May 5 his S. Texas deal is in the final week. “We will finish clipping Monday or Tuesday and be done by end of the Friday,” he said. “Whites are still going for another three or four weeks from Chihuahua, and they’re beautiful,” he added.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on May 5, “We will be finished harvesting tomorrow and will have inventory to ship through May 15. At that time we should start shipping the Eagle Pass onions.” He said the market for S. Texas had been “steady all the way through,” and he noted, “Our production on the first half of the crop was greatly reduced (by February freeze). The second half of the crop had yields equal to or slightly above normal, and quality was good all the way through.” David continued, “In the last seven days the most impact on the market has come from huge arrives from Western Mexico and California.” He said the market “is trying to get better,” and he added, “We’ll see how much volume comes out of the other areas. It’s what makes life interesting this time of year.”
Mike Davis with Tex-Mex Sales LLC in Weslaco told us on May 5 that demand has been good this week. “Tex-Mex onions have been moving well,” he said. “We are sold out for the week.” He continued, “We had a little rain last week, but it didn’t affect us. We had plans to harvest at the end of this week anyway, so the rain put is us in the fields harvesting Friday and Saturday, and we’ll be right on track. If you’re managing your fields properly, you can negotiate a little rain.” Mike added, “Honestly, though, there aren’t many of us running out of South Texas now. There are just a few of us left. We will have our Texas onions for about the next three or four weeks, and that was the plan. Around May 10-17, we plan to start receiving Mexican onions, so we will be marketing those, too.” Mike said the market has been fair. “The market hasn’t been that great for South Texas, but it looks like it could be perking up here for California, and maybe we’ll get a little bit of that here at the end for the Texas market.”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, told us on Cinco de Mayo, “It was a little windy and dry last two weeks, but weather this week has been kind, and irrigation for our thirsty onion crop has started.” Never a dull moment at Owyhee, where Chris noted, “We presently busy doing fresh asparagus and planting watermelons for summer production.”
New Mexico/North Carolina:
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos in Raleigh, NC, reported on May 5 that Billy the Kid’s New Mexico crop in Deming is progressing well. “Looks like we will probably get started on June 7,” he said. “It’s been warm recently, so the crop has responded well, and our timing has moved up slightly. I also want to be sure to mention that our East Coast onion deal in New Bern, NC, will begin on May 17,” he added. “We will have a slug of yellows, and we are excited to have a freight advantage moving some great quality onions up and down the East Coast. So, we hope buyers will really take advantage of the cool little East Coast deal we’ve got going here.”
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said his growers in both Western Colorado and Corinne, UT, are on track for a normal start to their seasons. Colorado’s onions are expected to kick off late August-early September, and Corinne will begin its shipments in October.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on May 5 his two Western Colorado growers look to be in good shape for the season, which will begin around Labor Day. “We think everything is on schedule,” he said.