Featured image: Eastern Oregon onion harvest on September 2 in Ontario, OR, courtesy of Grant Kitamura with Baker & Murakami Produce Co.
Idaho and Washington
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from his office in Salem, OR, this week and said, “We are currently shipping out of Idaho and Pasco, WA, and demand has been pretty good this week. It had dipped a little, but with the Food Box Program picking back up and retailers ordering more, mediums and 3-pounders are moving well.” John continued, “The Food Box Program looks to be taking large mediums and small jumbos, too, for those participating shippers that have them. And now that we are getting into September, we should see demand for the larger stuff increase.” He said quality is very good. “We’ve been really pleased with the quality, and we haven’t had any issues.” On the market, John said it is OK. “Let’s put it this way: it’s not horrible,” he said. “We have seen worse pricing at this time of year in the past, so it’s great we aren’t repeating that kind of market.” John noted that transportation is getting tighter. “Trucks are getting spread pretty thin. With potatoes, apples, and other produce being shipped, it’s harder to get trucks.”
We caught up with Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, on Sept. 2. “Man, we are super busy this week,” Jason said. “We are getting requests for all sizes and colors across the board, which is great! Our quality is great too, so we’re very happy with the way the season has started.” Jason said the market is steady. “Honestly, it’s a little softer than we would like, but it is steady,” he said. “With the excellent quality, we should be at least at $8 or higher, but that’s not to say the market’s bad.” Jason also noted that transportation is tough this week. “Getting trucks is hard,” he said. “It’s particularly tough getting trucks going back East.”
Grant Kitamura with Bake & Murakami Produce Co. reported on the company’s harvest this week. “All of our early onions are gone,” he said. “Now, we are into our storage variety onions, which is early for us, and we are very pleased with the quality. The onions coming in look beautiful. They have nice, tight skins and great color. We’ve been extremely fortunate this season. The weather has been ideal.”
Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, told us on Sept. 2 that after 90 days without rain, the Western Slope had seen three out of five days with precipitation, which has resulted in a brief rain delay. “We got started, and we have all three colors,” David said. “There’s a rain delay in some fields, but we’re seeing strong demand, very good movement and fine transportation.”
Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor told us on Sept. 2 Gumz is shipping yellows now. “Harvest is in full swing,” he said, adding that the farm’s reds are “a few weeks away.” Shipments will run through the end of May, and Doug said the operation is working to extend the season by adding more refers. “We’re shipping mostly mediums now,” he said of size trends, and he noted demand and movement are good for that sought-after size. “Retail sales and the Food Box Program are both good now,” Doug said.
Walt Dasher with G&R Farms in Glennville, GA, told us on Aug. 27, “Peru crop has been about normal, as we push for earlier production, we typically run into size issues in the earlier part of the season. Onions we are harvesting now are more to type, but of course these onions will come to market in October. Weather has been normal for the middle of the Southern Hemisphere’s winter.”
With the 2020 Walla Walla Sweet season over, grower Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms told us on Sept. 1 he’s now prepping fields for planting the overwinters for 2021. Overwinters make up 60+ percent of the crop, with the balance in transplants that go in during March. “We had a good season, and the market was steady,” he said of 2020. “We harvested as we were going along.” The 2021 program will not differ significantly from this year’s, he noted. “We’re looking at the same acreage for our Walla Walla Sweet Rosés,” Michael said. “Reception for them was good this year.” Like the yellow Walla Walla Sweets, the Rosés are largely overwintered, and all the seed is heirloom for the season, which traditionally runs from mid-June to late-August/early September.