Trish Lovell with Curry and Co. in Brooks, OR, told us on Sept. 12 that she was selling yellows, whites, reds and sweets as “the onion gal.” She returned to the Oregon company on Sept. 11 after three years at Agri-Pack in Pasco, WA. “The guys are bringing yellows in,” she said of harvest. And she added, “Demand is good for all varieties.” About her return to Curry, where she had worked for seven years before going to Washington, Trish told us, “It’s good to be here. There’s a great staff, with some new people on board, and I’m hoping to continue to grow what Curry has been doing in onions.”
Larry Denke with Agri-Pack in Pasco told us on Sept. 12 that demand on jumbo yellows was exceeding supply. “We can sell those all day long,” Larry said. “Mediums don’t have quite the same buzz.” Larry noted that a “few whites ran yesterday,” and he said Agri-Pack had also run “a few reds this week.” Whites and reds are all in storage, and he said yellows were still running out of the fields. Quality, he said, is “very good.” Larry added that the company will be bringing on a second salesperson with the departure of Trish Lovell.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla reported Sept. 13 he is seeing good demand this week, and pricing is strong. “As everyone knows, the planting was late,” Dan said. “It was a wet spring, so growers got in late, and reports say that it was the second hottest season on record, and it is pretty easy to do the math on what happened with the earlier onions. So these early varieties smaller than average size, and the yields are a little off. On our sweet varieties, the story is a little different. We have seen good yields and good sizing as well.” Dan said the weather forecast should help with storage variety harvest. “The weather is expected to cool off, and that will be good for onion harvest,” he said. “The next three to four weeks are going to be what matters for the storage crop. With the favorable weather, it’s anticipated that it will be a normal crop, and we’ll have normal supplies.” He said transportation could be an issue. “Some major retailers are saying that truck freight movement is tight, and the Southeast should expect to see interruption and rate impacts because of the Florida and Texas hurricanes.”
Bernie Pavlock with ProSource Produce in Hailey, ID, said on Sept. 13 demand is very good this week, and the market is strong and slightly rising across the board. “The market for whites is really strong,” Bernie said. “The red and yellow market is good too, and it’s particularly good on jumbos. Of course, supplies on larger onions are a little tighter.” Bernie said the quality of onions coming in now is excellent. “We did have some rain last night, which slowed us up a bit, but the forecast looks good for harvest. For the next three to four weeks we will be in the bulk of harvest, and that’s where we will see how things are going to turn out. We expect to have adequate supplies for our customers with good quality.” Bernie added that right now transportation is becoming a concern. “We are hearing reports that FEMA is paying $5 a mile for hurricane relief transportation,” he said. “And since there are no railcar shipments yet and you have heavy volumes of potatoes, apples, and onions shipping out of the Northwest, transportation could be a problem.”
Chris Woo with Baker & Murakami Produce Co. in Ontario, OR, said on Sept. 13 that demand is very good and the market is strong. “The onion production coming from the field is a little slow right now, and we are doing everything we can to fill all the customer orders,” Chris said. “We are expecting really wonderful harvest weather, so we are excited about storage harvest.” He said availability should become better in the weeks to come. “Once we get going on full-blown harvest with the storage varieties, we should see supplies open up. We will just have to see if the sizing gets better as the onions come in. We feel confident, we will have the supplies needed to accommodate our customers.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, reported in on Sept. 13 that the Colorado Western Slope deal is “going great.” He said, “Yields on all are the highest we’ve seen in several years, and bulb size average is larger as well.” David works with Ahlberg Farms, Coal Creek Produce and Hines Farms. “It’s been dry, and harvest and parking is at full speed for Ahlberg Farms and Coal Creek Produce. Hines Farms will be packing in a couple of weeks.”
Ryan Fagerberg at Fagerberg Produce/Fagerberg Farms in Eaton told us on Sept. 13, “We have about three to four weeks left of harvest.” Ryan said the operation is finishing up on transplants and “transitioning into our storage crop.” He said, “We have been shipping all colors and sizes since early August. Movement has been really steady, and the market seems to be holding up quite well.” And, Ryan said, “I’m tired of watching the weather forecast, so I’m excited to wrap up harvest.”
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, said on Sept. 13 Keystone’s Peruvian program is similar to that of the Northwest. “You know, it’s interesting that when you have certain weather conditions in some parts of the world, they can be the same in other parts,” Dan said. “In Peru, the growers experienced a cooler growing season, so the season start was a little later than in years past.” Dan said it will be hard to determine how the Peruvian season will all shake out in December. “The one thing we haven’t seen is any real shipping problems,” he said. “Sure, some ships may have gotten hung up slightly because of the hurricanes, but it has had little to no effect on delivery. I am more concerned with truck freight across the U.S.”
John Harris with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Collins and Denver, CO, told us the hurricanes have made logistics difficult. “The Hurricane has impacted the logistics more than anything else. Trucks are tight and expensive from coast to coast. The market is as good as it has ever been in September across the board to my knowledge, and it sure looks like it will stay that way for the entire storage crop season. Overall quality that has arrived to us in Denver has been very good now that we getting into the long day storage varieties. I had questions about what we might expect with all of the high heat in the NW this season, but so far, so good.”
Dale DeBerry with All-Veg Sales in Bourne, TX, said on Sept. 13 that Tampico had received two and a half inches of welcome rain recently, and he added his growers were “just getting ready and will plant all the way through October.” Dale said the mostly yellow crop will start shipping in late February.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Sept. 13 his growers were “planting around the mountain area,” but fields nearer the coast have not been planted yet. “They got that beneficial rain, too,” he said.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, told us Sept. 13 Keystone’s growers are starting to prepare for planting in the Tampico area and other areas of Mexico. “The news about Harvey and Irma has really overshadowed what is going on in Mexico,” Dan said. “No one has really said much about Hurricane Katia, and we are keeping a close eye on this to see how it may affect the growing region as a whole.”
Colorado Western Slope:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said John Harold in Olathe, CO, would start running onions on Sept. 18. “We’ll start at 9 a.m. Monday,” Don Ed said, adding that the intermediates “will lead right into our winter storage onions.” The intermediates will ship for about three weeks, he said, with the transition to storage in late October. “Quality is very good. It’s been dry, and they irrigated and then let the onions sit and cure. They sized up from mediums and jumbos to mostly jumbos and colossals,” he said. The storage crop will run through mid-January.
Bob Sakata at Sakata Farms in Brighton said on Sept. 13 that the 2017 crop is “beautiful.” He said, “We’re starting to store now, and we’ll start grading in late September.” Sakata Farms has reds, whites and yellows, and Bob said the crop sized to 60 percent jumbos and 40 percent mediums.
Featured Image: Lifting storage onions near Ontario, OR on September 13, 2017. Photo courtesy of Grant Kitamura with Baker & Murakami Produce Company.