Brenden Kent with Sunset Produce in Prosser took a break Aug. 5 from his busy day on the sales desk. “Demand is exceptionally strong this week,” he said. “We are seeing good pull from the retailers and foodservice, and demand is very high on exports – some of the best export demand we’ve seen in several years.” Brenden said the increased e-commerce of produce has also contributed to demand. “There is a good number of our customers that now have online ordering,” he said. “This has sparked demand and is an area of the industry that we feel should continue to grow.” Brenden noted that larger sizes have been popular, but demand has been good across the board. “Even our mediums have been moving really well.” Regarding the crop, Brenden said, “Things are looking good, but we may not have as many onions available late in the season like last year. We’ll just have to see.” He said Sunset is very optimistic about the 2018-19 season. “Our customers are very happy to get going with our product, and it’s nice to know that they have expressed their desire to purchase and stick with American-grown product. That’s reassuring for us. The other bright spot is that the market remains steady and we haven’t had to change our prices in weeks. These steady prices are also good for the customer because they can purchase high-quality onions at a reasonable price.”
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla told us that Keystone’s hybrid program is going well. “We are getting through our early fresh hybrids and moving into storage varieties as we speak,” he said. “It’s been a typical start for us. Weather in the Northwest has been excellent for harvest.” Dan said the general consensus is that it will be a normal crop. “Due to some high temps in the summer months, sizing could be slightly smaller, but we really won’t know until we get further into harvest,” he explained. When asked about demand, Dan said it’s typical for this time of year. “When it comes to retail, customers are starting to reset their stores. It’s fairly evident here in the Northwest that they are making the transition from sweet corn and melons to fall produce, like onions and potatoes. Demand should start rising in the next few weeks with a traditional peak around Thanksgiving.” Dan said that the market is also typical for this time of year. “A $6.50 market on a jumbo yellow is average, so the market’s not too bad right now.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, told us Sept. 5 that demand is highest for mediums. “Demand is fairly good so far this week,” he said, noting that it is “not as busy as the previous two weeks.” Steve added, “Medium onions in all colors seem to be in bigger demand than the past week.” The market has been steady, and he said, “We are running into some cheaper prices from time to time on jumbo yellows from some of our competitors. Not sure if it is quality issues or they are trying to buy their way into the marketplace.” Baker & Murakami has good availability on the larger sizes in all colors, and Steve said, “We are tight on volume with the smaller sized onions.” Quality has been very good, and he said transportation has “been adequate for our needs at this time.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce reported from his Nyssa, OR, office on Aug. 5, saying, “Wow! I am super busy today. Demand this week is hot, and we are moving a lot of onions,” Jason said. “Demand is equal across all colors and sizes. And quality is outstanding.” Jason said the market is mostly steady, and Eagle Eye is currently shipping all colors and sizes. ‘Sure, there’s been a little downward slide on jumbo yellows, but overall to market is OK and holding.” When asked about transportation, Jason said, “It’s a little tough, but not as bad as it has been. The bottom line is, we’re all good here!”
Colorado Front Range:
Ryan Fagerberg with Fagerberg Farms/Fagerberg Produce in Eaton shot us a quick email Sept. 5 to let us know everyone at Fagerberg is very busy with the new season, and he said, “Things are going well.”
Bob Sakata with Sakata Farms in Brighton, CO, told us it’s been “a challenging year,” and he said, “Because of the labor problem, we will wait until everything is in storage to start shipping.” Bob said it will be an early October start date for the onions to go out.
Colorado Western Slope:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said his Western Slope grower was bringing in the first onions on Sept. 6, and he said, “We’ll have some to sell on Monday, Sept. 10.” Don Ed added, “John Harold said everything looks really good. Some fields are being irrigated to get more size.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers/Onions 52 in McAllen, TX, reported in from Montrose on Sept. 5, saying that the region had received a bit of rain, and Coal Creek Produce will start running onions on Monday, Sept. 10. Hines Farms in Delta has started packing, with yellows and reds being packed now. “All the intermediates have good size and are heavy to jumbos,” David said. The recent cool weather and rain – the first measureable rain in double-digit months – was welcomed. “It kind of slowed things down a little bit, which was good.” He noted that the intermediates will run through mid-October, when the deal will transition into storage yellows, reds and whites. “We’ll ship storage through the end of January,” he said. “The guys agree it’s an average crop and average yields with really good quality.”
Jason Vee with Vee’s Marketing in Lake Nebagamon, WI shared his viewpoint with us this week, starting with, “I’ve said this a thousand times: short weeks are almost never worth it. We end up jamming five days of packing, trucking and deliveries into four days. Maybe I have a bad outlook. It’s just difficult to catch up. I also didn’t have office Internet or server capability for six days after my office got struck by lightning last week, so I started out the week a little behind.”
Jason continued, “Another thing I’ve noticed this week that’s different from previous years is the lack of trucks on the back end of a holiday weekend. There has been a trend for the past few years that more drivers are staying home for holidays than they did in previous years. That usually translates to a surplus of trucks showing up post-holiday.” He commented, “Well, it’s post-holiday. Where are the trucks?”
On to product. Jason said, “Regarding onions: Whites are still strong. Sweet market is good. Reds seem to have leveled off after weeks of decline. Demand is good on yellows, but yellows are still priced on the low end.”
And he said, “I want to point out something interesting about the market, but honestly, it’s just average. Unless poor harvest conditions like the flooding we have here in Wisconsin pop up in other growing regions, I’d say there are plenty of onions around.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Sept. 5 the Corinne onion deal should get started in early October. “They’re undercutting, and the onions look really nice,” he said.
Featured Image: screenshot of a video posted this week on Facebook and Instagram and provided to us by Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce in Parma, ID.