Trent Faulkner with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, reported to us on Wednesday, Oct. 9, that things are running smoothly for L&M. “Overall demand has slowed up this week,” he said. “With warmer weather hanging on in the Southeast, it seems consumers haven’t been getting out their crockpots and such to amp up fall consumption. On the market, it could be better on yellows. Reds and whites could be higher, but it’s not bad. So right now we have some fantastic whites coming out of Kansas, and really I am combining Kansas and Colorado because it’s pretty much the same area and program. We just opened a nice block of whites, and we should have availability through the end of the month.” In Washington, he said, the “program is running smoothly as well.” Trent added, “The onions are absolutely excellent, and our grower/packer does a great job for us, so we couldn’t be happier with the onions moving out of Warden.” He also said that Canadian Thanksgiving has helped move more onions out of Warden, noting, “We have a pretty good lane for that market.” Commenting on weather issues, Trent said, “Our onion areas aren’t expected to be affected by cold weather, but we have some concerns for cold weather potato-wise in northern regions like North Dakota and Idaho. We are watching onion areas that are expecting cold weather, and we’ll have to see if it impacts the market.” Trent told us to be sure and invite everyone to visit L&M at PMA Booth 3963.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing reported from his office in Walla Walla, WA, on Oct. 9, 2019, saying, “Everything is running smoothly for us. Our growers here in the Northwest are about 98 percent in with their hybrids. That number may be higher than some just because of where the onions are located.” He continued, “As most folks know, the harvest was delayed somewhat due to late planting, but the crop is excellent, and we haven’t had any quality issues. On yellows, the overall size profile looks to be somewhat smaller than in past years. Again, this may have something to do with getting the onions in the ground a little later.” Dan said demand is good, and the market is steady. “Here’s the important part: when you look at the 10-year max and the 10-year minimum for this time of year, over the last four weeks the movement has been very good. It was only last week that it dipped slightly, and demand tends to do that around the first part of October. The bottom line is people are still eating onions, and the market remains steady too, so there isn’t much to complain about.” He said on the sweet side of things, Keystone is looking at the same scenario. “Demand has been very solid for our Mayan Sweets out of the gate. In fact, as in past years, it’s nearing its peak, and then we will head into very strong demand for the holidays. Supplies are normal, and the quality is very good.” He continued, “Looks like we’ll have a manageable crop, and like our hybrid program, things should run pretty smoothly this season.” Dan made a quick note that Walla Walla had its best season in nearly 10 years, and Keystone’s Mexican growers are beginning to plant. “It’s really too early to comment on Mexico and forecast what Vidalia will be doing,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.” Dan will be traveling to PMA Fresh Summit next week and invited everyone to stop by Keystone’s Booth 2993.
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, told us on Oct. 9 that 80 percent of the crop is in “as of today, and from here on out it’s one day at a time.” Herb was referring to dropping temps in the forecast, noting, “We could get into the 20s tonight.” But, he added, “It’s been one day at a time since we began harvest.” Herb said demand was good on medium yellows, noting, “Reds and whites are normal, and we’ve had good demand on colossals all along.” Haun Packing is shipping all sizes and colors.
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Parma, ID, told us on Oct. 9 that everyone is busy with harvest, adding, “We’re still behind. The cold nights and next few days are concerning.” But, he noted, “The onions being put away in storage are the best I’ve ever seen.” On demand, Chris said, “Onion demand outbound is kind of on the slow side, which is OK. We run and pack for the orders we have, and then we shut down and use the help for outside harvest and storage.”
Grant Kitamura with Baker & Murakami Produce Co. took time this week to provide a harvest update, since Sales Manager Steve Baker was busy working with the crew to bring onions in ahead of the forecasted cold snap. “We are going as hard as we can to get these onions in,” Grant said. “Basically, it’s all hands on deck! We have the sales staff and office staff out helping, and all we can do is go like the wind to get ahead of the expected low temps.” He added, “Quality has been excellent so far with large size profiles, so that’s all good. We’ll have to keep you posted on how this harvest turns out, but we’re doing everything we can do here.”
Western Colorado/Corinne, UT:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Oct. 9 that the onion deal could be in for a change over the next couple of weeks. A cold front moving west to east had meteorologists calling for significant drops in temps, and Don Ed said many onion growers who had a late start to the season still had onions in the fields. “Western Slope growers are about 30 percent in,” he said of his growers. “But we won’t know what the weather does until after it hits, and it’s always a field-by-field assessment.” He added, “It could bring a number of possibilities, but we just don’t know.” He said his Corinne, UT, growers had about 60 percent of their crop in storage, and he said, “We’ll know more this time next week. We haven’t had an early freeze in a long time.”
John Harris with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Morgan wrote on Monday, Oct. 7, “I’d like to kick this week off with a bit of enthusiasm in hopes to break the cycle we are currently in. We are all aware the onion market has been pretty sluggish the past couple of weeks. Canadian Thanksgiving is a week from today, which bound to drive sales. For the U.S., the weather is starting to turn to fall. Cool days inspire crockpots to come out and stews to be made for football games during the weekend. All of this allows markets to move on from late summer time promotable items and get back to slinging onions and potatoes. I do believe that change in direction will come this week and things will pick up.” He added, “Markets are generally steady. There seems to be a deal here and there on random items that just pop up and they are gone. They are in no way indicative of the market, but if you are ready to buy, there are some opportunities. Quality overall from all regions at this point is very good. Whites have been a bit more hit and miss on the brightness scale, but onions are sound.”
Bob Sakata at Sakata Farms in Brighton said on Wednesday, Oct. 9, that a good percentage of Sakata Farms’ onions are in, but he added, “We need a couple of more days to harvest.” The weatherman had issued a freeze warning for Northern Colorado Wednesday night, with highs on Thursday in the low to mid-30s, lows in the teens, and a 67 percent chance of snow. Friday’s high was forecast to be 50, with an overnight low of 24. “What’s going to happen, we don’t know,” Bob said. “But we should have most of our onions in by the time the storm hits.”
Jason Vee with Vee’s Marketing in Superior, WI, told us on Oct. 9, “Yo! I took a few days off for a bow hunt in Oklahoma last week. Turns out I didn’t miss a daggone thing. Everything looks exactly like it did this time last week and the week before that.” He continued, “Quality is very good. Movement is slow. Sometimes it feels like the only calls we get during the day are robocalls for extended car warranties.”
In the West, Jason said, “Washington harvest is nearly finished. There is some talk about Idaho and Oregon not finishing their harvest before they get their first freezing overnights. From what I understand, they are about 80 percent finished with harvesting and running hard to finish fast. I see a low of 21 degrees for Parma on Thursday. Those onions may look fine going into storage, but they are susceptible to cellular damage from freezing temps that will shorten their storage life. That’s something to keep an eye on.” He added, “We’ll see some fall ads soon. That usually puts more pressure on medium yellows for consumers… except medium yellows are what we have the most of right now. I don’t expect any market changes for a while.”