Michelle Gurda with A. Gurda produce in Pine Island told us Sept. 19 that demand has been steady. “We are still shipping a few onions out of the West, but we started harvesting our New York crop at the end of August,” she said. “Demand has been stronger this week on jumbo yellows, but really reds and yellows in all sizes have been pretty good.” Michelle said A. Gurda has started harvest on storage varieties and will continue through the end of September or the first part of October. “We kept the same acreage this year, which is about the same as we’ve had for the last five or six years,” she said. “The onions look to be fair right now –
nothing spectacular and nothing terrible.” Michelle added that the market is steady. “Of course, no one thinks the market is super great right now, but it seems to be steady. We are competing with Canada, which makes things rough. They always try to come in lower, but we are holding our own.” Michelle noted that transportation is somewhat better. “We are still dealing with the ELD issues, but transportation isn’t quite as bad as it was at the first of the year,” she said.
Kansas and Washington:
Trent Faulkner with L&M Companies in Raleigh, NC, told us Sept. 19 that L&M is currently shipping out of Ulysses, KS, and Warden, WA. “Demand has been very active for smaller onions this week,” he said. “There seems to be a lot of big onions in the Northwest, and so customers are actively looking for mediums and pre-packs and getting them wherever they can find them.” Trent said the market is strong on smaller onions. “Because of the high demand on the smaller stuff, that market has been fairly good. That said, the market on the larger onions is starting to move downward. People are at a point where they are bringing in a lot of onions, and they are trying to free up space for storage. So they are moving as many as they can right now.” On quality, Trent said both Kansas and Washington crops look beautiful. “Everything looks great,” he said. “The whites out of Kansas are really more for commercial purposes, but boy, the whites out of Washington are tremendous. Overall, we are very pleased with everything we are seeing out of both areas.” We also asked Trent about Hurricane Florence and the impact it’s had on the folks at L&M in Raleigh. “We have been really blessed here in Raleigh,” he answered. “We had flooded streets here, and some of our family and friends had beach vacation homes that were severely damaged, but property can be replaced. We are grateful that no one was injured.” Trent did say that neighbors to the east and south haven’t been quite as lucky. “There is a lot of damage to the east and south of us, and it is still ongoing,” he said. On transportation, Trent noted, “Other than a customer in Myrtle Beach that we are having trouble getting to, the hurricane hasn’t created a huge problem for deliveries. The DOT has great resources for alternate routes and additional help in that regard.” OnionBusiness sends its thoughts and prayers to all of those at L&M and the folks in the hard-hit surrounding areas. We have also included a useful US DOT transportation link that covers information for ground, rail, air, and port information: https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-department-transportation-resources-hurricane-florence
Colorado and Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us the Colorado Western Slope crop is moving well, with great size and quality. “Everything looks really good,” Don Ed said on Sept. 19. “Everything is coming in on time, and size is excellent. We have all three colors available in Colorado.” He said the Corinne, UT, crop is also on time and will start shipping in October.
Idaho and Washington:
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms in Idaho Falls, ID, reported from his Salem office this week to say, “Demand this week is not terribly active, but it has been consistent.” He added, “The market on whites has been slightly better than the rest, but overall I still rate the market as steady. I think if the market may be slightly off this week, it boils down to a typical mid-September, and some shippers may be trying to force the market. You can’t force a market. Then you add to it the fact that shipments eastbound have been slowed due to Hurricane Florence. I am pretty confident that the market will pick back up quickly once those deliveries to the East get cleared up.” John said quality coming out of Idaho and Washington has been “awesome,” saying, “We are shipping good quality onions that have nice paper and great color. The storage season should be good too. I had a chance to see the new storages built in Idaho and Washington, and both operations look more than ready for the new season.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, reported on Sept. 19, that demand has “been good this week just like it has been the previous five weeks.” He said, “Demand is stronger on jumbo yellows and medium yellows than colossals and super colossals. We have good availability on all colors but are a little tight on the medium sized onions.” And, he said, “Quality has been very good!” The market has been steady, and Steve noted that transportation is “starting to get tighter on trucks than previous weeks.” He said, “We are getting what we need but having to work harder to get the loads covered.”
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, said on Sept. 19 that demand this week is good overall, with the heaviest on mediums, which are tight. “Movement is good,” he said. “We’re ahead of the three-year average, and quality is exceptional.” Pricing is “below the cost of production, he said.” Herb also said the operation is ten days to two weeks away from getting everything in. About transportation, he said, “We’re seeing higher prices, but we’re getting it done. The local junior college had a truck-driver school for seven or eight years, and they had to close their doors this year because no one wants to be a truck driver anymore.”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, said on Sept. 19 that the market is steady, adding, “Demand is moderate, and we wish the pricing were higher.” He said the red price is decent, white is good and “yellow is a little wimpy.” Chris said mediums are tight. “Quality is excellent, and this is probably one of the best harvests I’ve ever been associated with. The weather has been perfect, and onions are being harvested and put away in great shape.” Owyhee is more than halfway through harvest, he said, and all sizes and colors are shipping now. “We’re seeing a lot of big onions,” he said. “Chains like mediums, and that’s what’s taking them.”
Jason Vee with Vee’s Marketing in Lake Nebagamon, WI, checked in with us on Sept. 10 to say, “It feels like I just finished onions in New Mexico yesterday, and it’s been like six weeks already. Quality is exceptional on reds, whites, yellows and sweet onions out of Washington. I had a few bumps along the way with at least one yellow variety. One variety bit me a few times. I’m no farmer. I could probably only rattle off a few onion varieties by name. But this one specific variety came up more than once in the last few weeks. So, no more of those.” Jason also said, “I don’t want to make my contributions to this article a platform showcasing my mistakes, but I will share one mistake I made this week. I use reefers 90 percent of the time. Most of my customers require reefers by mandate. However, I will load at least a couple vented vans and the occasional flatbed every week. They are good onion haulers in the right weather. My mistake this week is that I loaded onions on a vented van that had already been precooled to 40 degrees.” He continued, “I wouldn’t have done it if I had known they were precooled that far. So, what happens when you put ice cold onions on a hot trailer? They sweat. They sweat and drip inside that trailer for four days and 1,800 miles. I’m certain there is a lesson in there somewhere. I’ll let you know when I figure out what it is.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said his Mexico growers have completed about half of the new crop planting. “This week was wet,” he said. “But they needed the rain. They had about a week’s skip, but they’re still right on schedule.” He said yellow sweets will be shipping, and Onion House will have them Jan. 15. The volume crop out of Mexico will start up for Don Ed in March.
Feature image: Cuyama, CA onions courtesy of Robert Bell with Western Onion Sales.
Now take a look at additional awesome sent in by Robert Bell of the Cuyama, CA onion harvest. You can also view the Cuyama Video of the Week by clicking HERE.