Featured image: Idaho-E. Oregon onion harvest, courtesy of Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, told us on Sept. 16 that onion sales are going smoothly. “On our hybrids in the Northwest, the harvest is running smoothly,” he said. “There is good sizing, and there seems to be pretty high yields so far.” Dan added, “There is some smoke from the fires, but it hasn’t hampered any of our harvest activities. We have had very dry weather, so there isn’t the fear of wet weather when we harvest into October.” He also said, “The market is good and is fairly normal for this time of year. Compared to past years, demand is a little above average – normally September is not a really strong month for onion sales, so we are happy that demand is strong.” Dan said Keystone’s sweet onion programs are doing well. “Our imports are coming in a little slower than normal,” Dan said. “Some of it has to do with the weather.” And, he said, “Our demand for our Northwest sweet onions is also doing well. All in all, we really don’t have anything to complain about. It’s all working pretty smoothly right now, and we anticipate it’s going to be a good fall season for onion sales.”
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us on Sept. 16 that demand is steady. “We are moving onions out of Warden, WA, and Ulysses, KS, and movement has been steady,” he said. “We are shipping all sizes and colors out of Washington and mainly medium yellows out of our Kansas operation. We will be adding some reds and whites out of Kanas next week.” He continued, “Quality out of both sheds has been very good and getting even better as we move into the storage varieties.” Matt said the market is holding. “We are pleased that the market is holding steady and there hasn’t been any pressure to drop pricing, which very good for this time of year.” On transportation, Matt said, “It’s our number-one enemy right now,” adding, “While we do have some freight advantage with the locations we are shipping from, freight rates are terribly high, and it’s pretty scary when you consider it’s only going to get worse in the months ahead.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Produce in Nyssa, OR, said on Sept. 16 that demand is very high this week. “We are seeing extremely high demand for all colors and sizes,” he said. “We are pretty much sold out by Monday or Tuesday of every week.” Jason also said, “We are starting to store onions now, and we anticipate harvesting into the first or second week of October.” He noted, “Quality out of both areas is fantastic, so we are very pleased about that.” On the market side, Jason said it could be higher. “The market right now is OK, but I would say we could be pushing it up higher. With such high demand, there is really no reason for us not to.” And regarding transportation, he said, “It’s a nightmare! It seems that there is a load of people wanting trucks, and there are fewer drivers out there now. Boy, if you can find a truck, you better take it.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Distributors in Payette, ID, reported to us on Sept. 16 that onion sales are good this week. “Demand has been strong this month,” Dan said. “All sizes and colors are moving well. Our quality is great, and it seems every day the onions brought in are just getting better and better.” Dan also commented on the smoke from fires in the West, saying, “The smoke does have a little effect on the ability to dry things out, but at least we don’t have that 90-degree heat with the sun baring down on the onions. So really we are in great shape to continue harvest.” He added, “We just started into our long-day storage onion harvest, so we should be going for a while yet.” Dan said the market is steady. “You know with all the obstacles being thrown at us this year, we have figured out a way to navigate through it, and we are just going like crazy.”
Colorado Western Slope:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Sept. 16 his Western Slope grower will be bringing in onions next week, “starting Monday or Tuesday for sure.” As in other areas, Western Colorado labor is short, and onion grower John Harold of Olathe saw his sweet corn deal run longer than usual, which delayed onions slightly.
Zach Mason with Zach Mason Farms in Fowler told us on Sept. 16, “Harvest is in full swing here after surviving the craziest weather week in anybody’s memory,” Zach said. “We touched 105 here last Saturday afternoon and then got down to 34 the following Tuesday. That gave more people the sniffles than Coronavirus, but the onions came through fine and look great.”
Rick Minkus with Minkus Family Farms told us that demand is very good this week. “We’ve had very good demand this month,” Rick said. “We are still pulling some onions from the Northwest, but we are harvesting our onions now and selling mostly smaller yellows and reds.” He added, “Our yields are a little off because of sizing, but then again we are ‘medium’ growers so that’s all good for us. We really don’t like to get the size too big, because when we do, we have issues.” In addition, Rick said, “The humidity, fog and other factors aren’t conducive to raising large onions.” He said quality is very good, too. “The stuff we’re harvesting now all goes straight into the bag,” he said. On the market side, Rick commented, “We’ve been pleased with the market. It’s holding steady.” On transportation, Rick said. “It’s not bad. We live where the people are, so we definitely have a freight advantage. On the trucks coming our way from the Northwest, the freight is terrible, so we’re lucky we live where we live.” And he laughed, “Now, all we need is a few more states between us and boy, we’d be in great shape.”
Many thanks to Rick for sending the stellar photos of his harvest this week.