Featured image: Colorado Western Slope onion crop, courtesy of David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX
Brenden Kent with Sunset Produce in Prosser, WA, told us on Sept. 8 that demand is very good this week. “Demand for all colors is very good this week,” Brenden said. “Jumbo demand across the board on colors is in high demand as well. Our sweets are moving out the door and those are selling well. On the market, we’ve been very happy with the harvest market.” He added, “We all know there has been pressure on the smaller sizes, but overall we have been very happy with the way things have been going, and there is room for that to continue. So far harvest has been going well, and if the weather stays the way it has been, we are on schedule with our plans for harvest.”
California Central Valley:
Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo reported to us on Sept. 8, “The Central Valley is very smoky! Here in Cuyama is clear. I’m staying in Taft, which is in the foothills 995 ft. elevation west of Bakersfield, and when I’m going to Cuyama 2,600 foot elevation, I can’t see the valley floor.” He added, “Harvest continues at pace, slightly weedy, and smaller size but good yields for organic.” He noted he’s not seeing colossals, and he said he expects to finish there in early October.
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, provided a good update on Sept. 8, saying, “We are in the midst of a very successful crop, and we are looking forward to providing it to our fine customers.” He said, “Demand and pricing are pleasantly decent for larger size yellows and reds. Growers have started field operations to harvest their onion varieties to be put away in storage. Weather has been dry and warm, conducive to the onions being cured down and skin set to make an attractive appearance.” Chris added, “What’s being harvested and put away for winter usage is in great shape – probably quality-wise one of the best years I’ve seen come in.” And, Chris said, “Another bright spot is that Mexico is inquiring and making onion purchases from the U.S.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce Eagle Eye Produce provided his update on Sept. 8. “We are extremely busy because it’s a short week,” he said. “We sold out Thursday of last week, and buyers wanted to place early orders for this week, but we held off, and this week’s demand is very good.” Dan continued, “Everyone is asking for colossals, and they are very limited, but jumbo yellows are in very high demand. Reds are in high demand as well. Buyers haven’t been asking for whites as much as the other colors.” He went on to say, “Our quality is excellent too, and we are only about 20 percent into harvest.” Dan said it will be “several weeks before we start harvesting our storage stuff,” and when asked about the market, he said, “The market is steady and very strong right now.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, told us on Sept. 8, “Positive gains in the market and a very positive outlook for pricing for the rest of the season, that is the story of this week. An entirely new set of thinking is finally evolving in the marketing of our onions in terms of what are good returns for our farms and growers.” Dwayne said, “Costs continue to rise to historical levels, labor shortages and pricing for that labor aren’t going away, and what we deem as a break-even market, in terms of return to the grower, has to be double-digit markets; given all the factors of this season. Medium yellows continue to be extremely cheap and plentiful, and when you figure in that growers are basically getting zero returns on 20-30 percent of what they are bringing to the sheds, that really brings your paid hundredweights, based on yields, down.” And, he continued, “That, in turn, means the larger size onions, which are incredibly tight, have to bring a lot more money just to pay the bills. The morale of our growers is pretty beat up right now.” Dwayne said, “The bottom line is it’s beyond taxing to work this hard, for this many hours, and then on top of it not make any money. No one provides a more plentiful, safe, and dependable food supply than the American Farmer. It is critical that we keep our American growers financially afloat right now as we never want to be in a position that we are relying on foreign sources for our food. We hear of American packers going and contracting foreign onions for their deals, and it just blows my mind how any American grower would allow them to represent their products when they are bringing in foreign onions that devastate pricing to our domestic growers. It is critical that we keep encouraging our growers and appreciate them for what they are doing to keep us all in business and the world fed. The best way I know to do that is getting them positive returns so they can pay their bills and keep the doors open!” He concluded, “Without the farmer, none of this works!”
Colorado Western Slope:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, was on the road Sept. 8 but called in Sept. 8 to say grower John Harold got started running last Friday, and all colors and sizes are available now. “We have some nice jumbos,” Don Ed said. “Seventy-five percent are 3.5-inch and larger.” And, he continued, “Prices are good on all three.” He said the truck deal is “still terrible,” but he noted that while he’s been on the road, he has seen more trucks on the highway. He said many are likely getting loaded after the Labor Day weekend, and he added, “Hopefully it’s getting better.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, said on Sept. 8 his operation is shipping this week. “It’s starting slowly as crews transition,” he said, and he added, “I expect a lot more harvesting and packing this weekend and next week. Crews are in place, and more workers are coming.” David said the further into harvest the crews get, the larger the onions coming out. “Quality looks good,” he said. “And transportation is adequate.” Our thanks to David for the great shots of Colorado Western Slope onions.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Sept. 8 his Corinne, UT, growers are reporting “one of the best crops in years with really nice size.” He added, “They’re not in the barn yet, but so far this crop has everything on its side.” The Utah crop is harvested in the fall, and shipping starts in October. Don Ed also said the Tampico, Mexico, crop is being planted now.