Featured photo courtesy of Robert Bell with Western Onion Sales
It’s not over ‘til it’s over. Robert Bell with Western Onion Sales in Camarillo said on Sept. 11 that Western Onions will continue to harvest in the Cuyama Valley between the Coastal and Central valleys until late September/early October, and he noted, “We’ll harvest whites here probably the end of this week.” Robert added, “We’re harvesting about a million pounds a day.” And he said, “Our neighbor up here will be going probably until the end of October.” Robert said Western has “a lot in storage, and we’re continuing to pack small jumbos and mediums and shipping out of Bakersfield.” Western is shipping mostly reds and yellows, he said. There’s not a big break between harvest and planting, and Robert said Western will start planting fields on Oct. 21 in both the Central Valley and the Imperial Valley.
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC told us on September 11 that L&M has completed their shipping out of New Mexico and is now shipping out of Warden, WA, and Ulysses, KS. “We are going full steam out of Warden now,” Matt said. “Quality is very good, and like most of the Columbia Basin, supplies in Warden are good as well.” Matt added, “Demand is pretty good for this time of year. It’s not super heavy, but it’s good and we’re staying ahead of it.” The market, he said, “is a little soft, but it’s steady, and I think we have found a leveling off point after the downward slide we had in August.” East of the Rockies L&M Cos. is also selling onions out of its Kansas operation. “Right now the onions are leaning toward a smaller size profile, but the quality is good, and we expect to get into larger sizes next week.” Kansas experienced a spring similar to that in neighboring Colorado – wet. Matt said conditions “delayed this part of the country somewhat. But the crop looks great, and we expect to have good supplies from our operation there well into October.”
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, told us on Sept. 11 that demand has been “fairly good” this week. “We are shipping all sizes and colors, but we hit a small gap on yellows this week,” Herb said. “We will be into storage varieties next week, and we will have good volumes on all colors and sizes, including yellows. Quality is looking excellent and the market has finally stabilized, so we’re in good shape.”
John Harris with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Morgan told us on Sept. 9 that he was looking forward to this week. “Markets have stabilized for the most part, and I think we will see overall buying habits get back to normal.” He continued, “The next six weeks is a great time to run some quick spot buy promotions, and if retailers want to have some ad specials, this is also a great time of year with the harvest push around the country.” John said Paradigm fresh has “good supplies of everything here in Colorado, particularly medium yellows.” Trucks, he said, “have been a little tight in the Northwest, especially with reefers. We have plenty of trucks and favorable rates right now in Colorado.”
Ryan Fagerberg with Fagerberg Produce in Eaton told us on Sept. 11 that the family operation has “all colors and sizes ready and crop is looking good thus far.” Fagerberg will have everything in storage in early October, he said.
Jason Vee with Vee’s Marketing in Superior, WI, said on Sept. 11, “I hate when it’s slow.” He continued, “We crank all summer like our pants are on fire, and then September hits.” And, Jason said, “Markets are happy. Quality is very good. Size profile is generally average, except for supers. We are missing the really big yellows.” This month, he added, “The hot deals that come with harvesting fresh crop onions are drying up. Washington is mostly storage now. I have been spending a little more time talking shallots and organics to drum up some interest and make the phone ring.” He said Angie “did a better job making the phone ring today, and not entirely on purpose.” Angie Sapik oversees freight, and Jason said, “She received a cheap quote from Washington to Ontario. It was too cheap. I said she better not use that rate to pass on rates to customers. And I gave her a cliché like, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is.’ Classic boss stuff. So, in order to back it up she posted the lane on a load board to see if she would get any bites.” He said, “Our phones absolutely blew up for the next 20 minutes, even after she took the load down. Every line lit up. Voicemails. Call backs. It was funny enough that I posted it on Vee’s Marketing’s Instagram. So, she proved that I was wrong. It wasn’t too good to be true. That lane is dead.” Jason also weighed in on imports, saying, “I haven’t sold very many yet this season, but the few Peruvian sweet onions we have sold looked really good. We use Philly as a shipping point. Hit me up if you’d like more info on those.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Sept. 11 the Western Slope onion crop will be later than normal but is coming along well. “John Harold will start lifting this weekend and will clip next week,” Don Ed said. He said the shed expects to start running onions on Sept. 23. “The storage onions are coming along pretty good,” he added. The Corinne, UT, operation will also be lifting onions this weekend and putting them in storage next week,” he said. Utah generally starts shipping in October. And, Don Ed said, his growers in Mexico are planting both seed beds and direct seeded, and that deal will start in late January or early February.
Our good friend Bob Sakata with Sakata Farms in Brighton said on Sept. 11 the operation will begin harvesting and shipping toward the end of the month. “Mechanical harvesting will start in a couple of weeks,” he said, adding, “The crop looks very good.” Hail has hit during the summer months in areas to the north and east of Sakata Farms, but Bob said, “We’ve been blessed and escaped it. We had some scares, but no hail.”