This week, Combined Market and Crop Update
Rod Gumz with Gumz Farms in Endeavor told us on Sept. 11, “We had challenges, late spring but crop progressed well and matured. We had some heavy rain that has delayed harvest ten days. The good thing is now the forecast looks great, and we are back lifting and harvesting. We are about half done lifting, with about 25 percent harvested. We will have good supplies through May. Size is good with good quality.” Many thanks to Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms for providing this week’s featured image. Another great photo provided below.
Robert Bell with Western Onion Sales in Camarillo reported on Sept. 12 that he was harvesting in Cuyama Valley between Santa Maria and Bakersfield at a 2,700ft. elevation. He said, “Just starting our last 57-acre block of organic yellow onions. Should finish early next week then off until planting in October. Quality here has been good. Our neighbor at Varsity Produce will start his onions here in approximately two weeks and finish in late November.”
Gerry Valois, also with Western Onion Sales in Camarillo, commented on harvest for Gills Onions. “California is finishing up a very good harvest season with only a few producers with fall/winter programs left harvesting. Quality has been good, and the size profile has been generous this year, similar or even larger than the prior season,” Gerry said. Rio Farms completed its Bakersfield harvest this past week, and crews will be wrapping up this season’s harvest in King City, starting in that area next week.
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Distributing in Payette, ID, told us Sept. 12 that Central has been very busy this week. “It’s amazing how smoothly our start has been – near perfect,” Dan said. “Demand is great across the board. Huge sales on jumbo yellows, but all the other sizes and colors are moving well too.” Dan said the market is steady. “Prices have been better on reds and whites but have slipped a little on yellows. I think that in part could be shippers wanting to get through their early stuff so they can get started with their storage varieties,” he said. “Depending on yields coming in on storage onions, we could see the market increase.” Dan said transportation is still tough. “At this point, we have all accepted the fact that transportation is going to be a rough go, and we are just dealing with it.”
Corey Griswold with ProSource/Golden West in Hailey and Parma, ID, told us Sept. 12, “ Demand was very solid the front of the week; however this morning it has slowed somewhat. We are attributing a good portion of the slowdown to the weather that is predicted to hit the East Coast. As a region, shipments have been very strong for the past several weeks, and a moderate short-term lull on the buying side is probably due. Demand for smaller yellow onions (medium/pre-pack) has been and remains very strong heading into the end of the week, and I expect that trend to continue. Our mixer business has been very good for all colors and sizes since we started back in the first week of August!” He added, “Currently at Golden West we are packing all colors, and the onion quality has been very good. Conditions for harvest have been exceptional, and good, dry conditions are allowing this onion crop to cure well in the field. We began binning storage onions last week. We anticipate putting a high quality, tight-skinned, onion crop in storage this fall.” And Corey said, “Transportation has definitely gotten snug in the past week. We utilize our own in-house transportation personnel, combined with Vertical Logistics LLC, our third-party logistics company, to cover our freight needs. We are fortunate to have an excellent carrier base that we utilize all year between ID/OR, TX, NM, and CA, and those folks do a great job of ensuring that our transportation needs are met 365 days a year.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, told us Sept. 12, “The market has remained fairly steady through all these green onions, which is positive. Reds and Whites have returned our growers nicely. Yellows are a different story. I always remind my customers we don’t work this hard to break even or lose money. Another positive, we have moved all our early varieties and are in our storage varieties now, and they look fantastic. Yields are very solid, and the quality is outstanding. So far Mother Nature has even cooperated, and most of our onions will be lifted by the end of this week to cure for storage. The crop that is going to be put into our buildings looks to be one that will help to accomplish our goals of extending our shipping season to service our customers longer with superior quality.” Dwayne added, “ On the not as positive side, labor is critically short, and having the people to pack full production and store full force is probably not going to happen. That being said, the onions have to get in out of the fields, so I think for us supplies will get even tighter as more labor resources are going to have to go to get the crop put away. I am hoping with this natural tightening of supply, coupled with green-topped onions being gone, we will see some strength in the market. For our farms and our growers that would be nice. November will be here before we know it, and it is important to remember that at that point if the market is up $1 per cwt, the grower is still getting the equivalent of today’s returns with the storage costs. Demand has been record for us, and the support of our customers indicates they prefer IEO onions! We are doing all that we can to start earlier and run longer. I hope other growing regions and domestic investors in foreign crops take that in mind as they make their planting decisions. I will also say I am always surprised to hear that even some of our local growers, and other US growers, would have entities that finance foreign crops market their onions. It seems to be a conflict of interest as those same foreign crops can have such a negative effect on our USA growers returns.”
Ryan Stewart with Fort Boise Produce in Parma, ID, said on Sept. 12 that Fort Boise is seeing more large onions so far, something he said could “be indicative of the season.” Ryan added, “We’re about ready to go into permanent harvest,” and he said Fort Boise is shipping yellows, reds and whites. “It’s been a good crop after nearly ideal growing conditions. We have good quality and good size.” The market, he said, is “OK,” adding, “Demand is good.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, texted us from the road Sept. 12 to say, “I’m on the way over to see Olathe (CO). We’re running whites and yellows. Movement is good. Quality is great.” Don Ed added, “Utah is in the harvest phase, and all is going well and on schedule. Weather is great in both places.”
Growers Perspective-Eastern Oregon
Paul Skeen, president of the Malheur Onion Growers Association, told us that movement has been very good out of the Treasure Valley. “The heat may have had some effect on yields and sizing, but I have to say the quality is absolutely excellent,” Paul said. “While the medium market has been good, from a grower’s point of view, the overall market should be better. With the extremely high-quality product coming out of Idaho-Oregon, we would like to see the market stronger so we can cover our costs. Honestly, even at today’s prices, it’s tough for the grower to cover costs with all the increases we’ve seen on labor, fertilizer, land, irrigation systems – and the list goes on. As we get further into our storage onions, we are hoping for an uptick in pricing so the growers can benefit and receive a return on their investment.”
Another great image was sent to us this week by Kelli McPeak of McPeak Farms. The photo was taken near Adrian, OR