Thanks to our contributors both here and traveling to Orlando and PMA! We have heard harvest is wrapping up in many areas, and although the market isn’t as strong as everyone wishes it were, everyone agrees it’s a good time to market onions.
Have a great time in Orlando, Fresh Summiteers! And safe travels home. For those who are holding down the forts and keeping the home fires burning, wherever you may be, have a terrific rest of your week!
Dale DeBerry of AllVeg Sales in Boerne, TX, said hi on Oct. 17, telling us he’d returned from an extended roadtrip to the West and Northwest. “I’m buying a few onions out of the Northwest now,” Dale said, adding, “Trucks are hard to get.”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, reported on Oct. 17 from PMA Fresh Summit in Orlando, where Owyhee is exhibiting at booth 144. “It’s beautiful weather here in O-Town,” he said. “We have three sales staff people and two from our marketing group here at the booth, so we’re well represented.” Back home the Treasure Valley, he said, “Harvest is going well, and we’re maybe 90 percent off the ground. We’ll be 95 percent by the weekend, and the weather forecast is good through next weekend, which is all in our favor.” Owyhee is shipping all sizes and colors, and Chris said sizing is good, with yellows large and better. “Demand is decent,” he said. “And pricing is reasonable. It’s staying steady. Now is a good time to promote onions, with quality very good.” Chris said. He also commented on export reports, noting, “I’ve heard Europe is looking for onions. Also, the NW is shipping to Japan, and that’s taken some of the pressure off the domestic market.”
Corey Griswold with ProSource Inc. in Hailey, ID, told us Oct. 17, “Demand has been very consistent over the past couple of weeks. We are pleased with where we stand so far this season, with regard to both sales and production. Toward the end of last week, it was very busy, and that has been the trend so far the front of this week. Shipments as a whole are trending well ahead of last season, and that is the dynamic we need to maintain into the winter months.” Corey added, “Currently at Golden West we are packing all colors, and the onion quality is exceptional. We are essentially finished with harvest and will have the doors closed on this crop by next Monday. The GW Farms team put up an incredible onion crop this season, and all the production improvements at Golden West in the shed are complete. On the sales and marketing front, ProSource is actively growing our existing and new customer base to accommodate for the increased production at Golden West!”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, told us on Oct. 17, “That’s a wrap! For the Champion group of sheds we have completed harvest, and all our red, white and golden beauties are undercover. There still seems to be some onions out in the field, but the weather looks to be fantastic for the next week for the growers still out to finish up.” Dwayne continued, “Quality, Quality, Quality! That’s how we would describe this crop. Our pack-out percentages are fantastic, and the storability looks to be some of the best we have ever had.” However, he added, “As far as market performance, the strong economic numbers the country is experiencing seems to be skipping us. Freight is tight, and as flatbeds continue to phase out, that will intensify. We plan to start shipping out of our Utah facility in November, so that will help with the transportation woes and allow us to keep our customers covered. Travel safe to the PMA, and we will see what November brings – we know for sure it is an additional $1/cwt charges for our farms and growers for storage costs!”
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us Oct. 17 that crews are back in the fields after a bit of cool, wet weather hit Colorado. “I think we’re all right,” Don Ed said. “They’ll start running again tomorrow. And they’re still about 10 days away to finish bringing onions in.” He said the Corinne, UT, crews are 80 percent finished with harvest. “They’ll finish storing this week and start running next week,” he said. Both regions have reported good sizing and quality. “Everything looks very good,” Don Ed said. “Except the market, which is iffy.”
Bob Sakata with Sakata Farms in Brighton told us Oct. 17 everything is going well given the hurdles that have been overcome this season. Weatherwise, Sakata Farms has dealt with wind and hail, and Bob said the farm, which is now operated by son Robert, has recovered. “Quality looks good,” Bob said of the onions. “We just got delayed [by weather].” The packing shed is running all colors, and Bob said whites and reds will clean up this week. Yellows will run through the season. At age 92, the veteran grower/shipper has seen more than a few crop seasons come and go, with sky-high highs and lowdown-lows, and he said growers can be their own worst enemy. “Farmers are addicted to growing,” he noted. That can lead to overproduction, and he added, “When it comes time to harvest, and the onions are ready to market, then farmers complain.”
Jason Vee with Vee’s Marketing in Superior, WI, took a look at what’s happening across the onioned landscape and said, “PMA week! It’s fun for people traveling and getting out of the office. For the rest of us, it’s just a slow week. Scott Vee always says, ‘It’s either PMA week because it’s slow, or it’s slow because it’s PMA week.’” Jason added, “It’s not really that bad. My volume is just average this week. Red onions are showing some decline. Whites and sweets are steady. Profile in the Northwest is consistently large. That’s making it difficult to get as many medium and prepack yellows as I need. But it’s not so difficult that they can get out of the $5 range.” He continued, “Eastern Canada, however, has the exact opposite profile. A very hot summer has produced a small profile of prepacks, mediums and very few jumbos. A profile that small should lend itself to smaller yields and a shorter storage season. A shorter storage season gives Mexico and Texas a fighting chance towards an up-market this spring.” Jason also looked at transportation and said, “Trucking continues to be challenging. Angie and I have been doing outreach to expand our carrier list. My friend Rod Winter is an independent owner-op who has hauled onions for Vee’s Marketing since before I started in 2006. Rod’s dad, Ken Winter, hauled for Vee’s as well. Rod and I were having dinner a few weeks ago, and I was whining about how difficult e-logs and driver attrition are making my life. I told him I had very few single truck owner-ops left. We used to have dozens. I paused for a minute while mentally scrolling my truck list and said, “Now that I think about it, you are my entire fleet of single owner-ops.’ Shout out to Rod. He’s the best.” And Jason concluded, “So, we are trying to get ahead of it the best we know how by doing the outreach now. I’m more than a little nervous for what freight in Washington, Oregon and Idaho has in store for us in November and December when Christmas trees begin. This is when it’s easy. And it’s just not that easy.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco told us Oct. 17 the region had gotten some showers in the past few days, but he added the weather has been nowhere near the intensity experienced to the east. “We’re about 30 percent planted, and we still have about four weeks in our planting window, so we’re OK,” Don Ed said.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said the Tampico crop is just about all planted. “They’re transplanting a few now and have a few more seeded to go in, and they’ll be finished next week,” he said.
Featured image courtesy of Dwayne Fisher
Additional photos from Dwayne are provided below: