Featured image: USDA Food Box program continues, courtesy of OnionBusiness.com
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from his Salem, OR, office this week. “The market is steady and just OK. It could be higher, but given this year’s circumstances, we’re getting by,” he said on Nov. 4. “On the demand side of things, it’s really pretty good this week. I moved a load from Idaho/Oregon, but most loads I am selling are coming out of Washington. All colors and sizes are moving well, and I’ve had my first pull for Thanksgiving going to buyers that have a longer ride for their loads. I will continue to line those out this week and next, and then I expect the rest of the Thanksgiving pull to kick in.” He continued, “Demand seems higher on the West Coast, and maybe that’s why I am moving more loads out of Washington. There is less demand for East Coast buyers, but some of that has to do with freight. Speaking of freight, it’s hard now, but everyone needs to remember that there is a lot of product been transported right now. Drivers moving apples can get more money, and in some cases, that’s true for potatoes too. It’s hard to know if the Christmas tree deal is going to be a factor, but for whatever the reason, you just have to work at getting trucks.”
Idaho-E. Oregon/ Washington:
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, reported on Nov. 4 that demand has slowed up this week. “It’s not dramatic, but demand is a little slower this week,” he said. “We are getting pretty good foodservice business, and we think this is just the calm before the holiday storm. One thing, the USDA Food Box program got renewed until the end of the year, so that has helped. The good thing is that the market is steady even with a slight dip in sales. There is really no reason to go below where we are now, and actually, we should be able to push it up for the holidays.” Jason noted that transportation continues to be rough. “In my over 20 years in the produce business, transportation is worse than I have ever seen it,” he said. “There is a lack of trucks and drivers, and now that it’s starting to get cold, we can’t use flatbeds, so it’s a fight every day to get a truck, and it’s just going to get worse.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, told us on Nov. 4, “Demand is fairly good, close to what we experienced last week.” It’s “even across the board on all sizes except on medium yellows,” Steve said, adding, “The Food Box Program is keeping the medium yellows in tight supply.” The market remains steady, and Steve enthusiastically said, “Quality has been very good! The onions look great.” He noted, “Transportation has been very tight this week, and I don’t see that easing up anytime soon.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Distributors in Payette, ID, reported on Nov. 4 that demand continues to be good. “We are seeing great demand for all sizes and colors,” he said. “Really it’s all good across the board. I am not sure if the holiday pull has started, but buyers could be getting geared up so they don’t come up short. On mediums, I am limiting what we are selling in that size for all colors. Mediums across the board are tight right now.” On the market, Dan said it’s steady. “Of course, we feel like the market should be better, but we haven’t had a price change in three weeks, so the market is steady as she goes,” he said. “And for transportation, it remains horrible! It is so difficult to get trucks and we just have to battle it out.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Nov. 4 that movement out of the Western Slope of Colorado has been very good. “We have excellent business out of Colorado on all three colors,” he said. “It’s also been very good out of Corinne, UT. Transportation is better in those areas than in other regions, and that’s a real plus for us.” He continued, “We can feel a little holiday demand – medium yellows picked up, and jumbo movement is really good going to Mexico. We’re exporting quite a few jumbos out of Colorado.” Don Ed said storage quality is very good, noting, “We’re seeing a lot of return business.”
Our friend Bob Sakata was at his desk on Nov. 4 at Sakata Farms in Brighton and reported to us that all the operation’s onions are in storage now. “We’re grading every day,” Bob said, adding that market conditions were remaining “pretty steady.”
Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo told us on Nov. 4 that his operation’s Imperial Valley planting was finished, although others “have a week or two to go.” He added, “The San Joaquin Valley short days are in, but we will continue through March with intermediate and long day planting.” And, Robert said, “We’re testing three of our new intermediate varieties from New Zealand, one yellow and two red. Then later we have three long day red varieties to plant. The long day reds have been planted at Oregon State University for the last three years and have performed well.” Robert said, “Organics are about the same [amount planted], and we will be trialing these same varieties organically as well as conventionally. Varieties will be grown the SJV, Salinas, Treasure Valley, Columbia Basin and New York, so far.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco is back in his Texas office, and he said on Nov. 4 that planting was finished last Friday on the new crop of onions in the RGV.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Nov. 4 the growers in Mexico had finished planting the direct-seeded crop and was finishing up on transplants that will be part of the later crop.