Featured image: Zito Farms in Glenns Ferry, Idaho, in full harvest, photo courtesy of Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce in Parma, Idaho.
Brad Sumner with Pacific Coast Trading Co. in Portland told us on Sept. 27 that demand for organic onions “stays very much steady, especially heading in the storage crop.” He said, “Customers have their needs; growers know their programs. Now it is time to service. You pick up a few odd orders now and then.” Brad added, “As it has been the last few weeks, medium sizes on reds and yellows seem a little tight at some of the sheds. So, demand for those is higher… But are we shipping more?” About the Northwest volumes, he commented, “The Northwest is basically in full swing. These late rains, especially the atmospheric river over the Northwest this week, have obviously delayed some growers to finish up their harvest. Effects of this extra rain we will have to see down the line as the onions come back out of storage.” Looking at the market, Brad said, “The broken record answer is Organic onion market is good.” He said, “It will hold steady until there is a supply hole. I don’t foresee that until maybe February 2024. Sheds will make deals on product that they are long on and product they do not feel has the legs in storage.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, told us this week that his Western Slope growers have started shipping all colors and sizes from Ahlberg Family Farms in Delta, and those shipments will 30-45 days, straight into the Brent & Regina Hines Farms crop. David said Hines’ volume will run through the end of the year, possibly going into January.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX said that John Harold, his Olathe grower, has started shipping onions this week, starting with reds and adding yellows and whites after.
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, told us on Sept. 27, “Demand has been steady this week. Similar to the previous two weeks.” Steve added, “All sizes and colors have been moving equally well. Smaller sized onions at times are a little tight from day to day.” On the market, Steve said, “The market seems to be holding fairly steady. Some sheds are packing reduced hours to help facilitate labor shortages during harvest.” Looking ahead Steve noted, “The area should be able to assess the crop in the next 10-14 days as harvest winds down. We’re hearing it’s a mixed bag on yields in the area.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce in Parma, ID, told us on Sept. 27, “Permanent storage is in full swing with an army of trucks, forklifts, crates, and people making it all happen.” Dwayne added, “We are certainly grateful for our teams. There are very few people left in our society that will work as hard as our teams do.” He continued, “The forecast calls for chances of rain this weekend, so we are cruising along. The previous August rains were historic, but nothing like that is in the forecast for now thank goodness! The onions are curing down nicely, and we should be right on time to wrap up storage the middle of October, weather providing.” About the market, Dwayne said, “Normal business has been steady, but general inquiries are quiet this week for us. It hasn’t been a problem as much of our labor is on the storage side right now anyway. It seems like the bottom in terms of market conditions has been established, which leaves nothing on the bone for the growers even if you have good yields, so the only way to describe the current market should be not good!” He continued, “Our farms and growers continue to feel the increase in costs with record fuel, labor, repairs, replacement equipment costs, and now even our fertilizer and chemical companies want more money for our fall work we are doing now for next year’s crops. Carrying fees seem to be the new term in the industry. If only we could add so many additional fees to our invoice prices! Shipping onions 365 days a year: I have always said it’s amazing how much we discount our superior service and performance. We really should just add a standard 15% service fee/gratuity on the bottom of each of our invoices. Our region is that good at what we do. We are optimistic that after storage finishes up things should get stronger on the market side. I am not sure why any grower would agree to do what we do on the farms without big returns, let alone none.” Many thanks to Dwayne for sending in beautiful photos of yellow onions recently harvested. Click image to enlarge.
Chris Woo also provided an update on Treasure Valley. “Onion harvest has been going on full blast this week. Growers and sheds are concentrating more on picking up onions as the priorities to go into storage than packing.” Chris said. “On trucks hauling in from the field, onion quality looks really nice, large, well cured, and excellent skin and color. Harvest is going at a reasonable clip. Hopefully, by the end of next week, if the weather cooperates, onion harvest should be over the hump.” Regarding the market, Chris said, “Presently, the market and demand are keeping up with each other.” He further commented on exports, “There has been good demand from Taiwan and Panama, and quotes are even coming in from Japan.”
Paul Reeping with Riverfront Produce in Payette, ID, told us that Riverfront should start up on Friday, Sept. 27. “We have started shipping reds and yellows,” he said. “Our supply of reds is limited right now, but as we get further into harvest, we will have more volume and will have whites available as well.” Paul added, “Buyers are looking for jumbo yellows, and the market seems to be steady this week.” On quality, Paul commented, “Quality is looking very good and we are happy with the onions going in storage.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, told us on Sept. 27 that Eagle Eye’s growers are about 50% all in the barn on harvest. “There has been some rain in Washington, but we have enough on hand that it hasn’t slowed shipments,” Jason said. “Demand is a little off this week, which happens this time of year. Now if all we had huge amounts of medium reds and whites on hand we would be moving those all day. They are super tight right now.” Jason went on to say, “Our quality is excellent, and we are pleased with what is going in the barn.” On the market, Jason said, “Oh, the market is solid. It is solid at a level below what we need for our growers. Knowing that this is historically a slow time of year, when shippers see a full floor, they should relax and hang on. Focus on harvest. It will get better. Hold the market up!” Jason added his comment on trucks, “Freight has gotten expensive, but we don’t have a problem getting trucks.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce provided his report on Sept. 27. “Demand started off a little slow this week,” Rick said. “It’s not surprising. It’s the last week of September, and that’s how it goes. Buyers continue to look for the small retail stuff and colossals.” He added, “If you have medium reds, you’re doing pretty well. In fact, all colors of mediums are sought after right now. We are shipping onions are coming out of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. We have some onions coming out of Colorado, too.” Rick said, “The market continues to be steady.” Rick noted that freight is good. “If you can load flats, you’re in good shape, but reefers are getting expensive and snug on getting them.”