Featured image: Imperial Valley new crop, photo courtesy of Mike Smythe with West Valley Packing
California Imperial Valley:
Mike Smythe with West Valley Packing told us on April 13, “We started shipping yellows on Tuesday. We had perfect weather for drying onions in stub sacks. It was a nice three days of windy weather. Early onions are mostly jumbos with mediums and colossal.” He noted, “We brought in USDA inspectors to train the graders because, with freight rates high this season, the last issue we need is making bad arrivals.” He went on to say, “Organic yellows start today, organic reds and whites mid-week. The early onions have good skin and size, and sizing on organics is the same as conventional onions. Conventional reds and whites will start on Tuesday. Our conventional reds are mostly jumbos, medium reds will be tough to come by. The flat sweet yellows and reds also start mid-week.” Mike commented that there was a fire incident on April 12 that destroyed the operation’s plastic onion bins. “It’s important to note that there were no injuries as a result of the fire and none of the onions nor the shed or any of the equipment was lost,” Mike said. “We are using stub sacks for the onions and that actually works really well for drying out the onions and preserving the quality. So we are continuing on as normal.” Many thanks to Mike for sending beautiful photos of the new crop.
Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo told us on April 13 that the Imperial Valley crop is coming along well. “There will be plenty of onions,” he said. “Quality is good and size is large. Customers are all ready to get off the ‘long in the tooth’ NW storage onions and get to the fresh stuff.” Robert said he expects a “fire sale” from the NW that will drag the market down.
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, told us on April 12, “In Idaho, only five sheds are packing part-time just for program business.” He said demand was light, and he added, “All sheds in Oregon are done for the year. The area will be shipping most of April until a smooth transition to the California desert and Arizona.” And, Chris said, “I want to wish everyone a Happy Easter and Passover.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen told us on April 13, “There’s a strong Easter pull in both retail and foodservice, and the markets are responding with slightly higher prices. Transportation availability is good considering the calendar, albeit at higher prices.” And he said, “Bridge issues with product crossing from Mexico is a real problem and is definitely restricting supplies on some items.” David added that the Eagle Pass area is starting in two weeks.
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said on April 13 he was “shipping onions like crazy” He said he’s moving Texas reds and yellows as well as whites out of Torreón, Mexico. “Texas will be completely done by mid-May,” he said, adding that volume will decrease after the first of the month. And he said he’ll transition into Chihuahua whites when Texas is finished.
Danny Ray with Ray Farms Inc in Glennville told us on April 13 that his company started packing Vidalias on the 12th. “We have had great harvest weather so far,” Danny said. “We had a little bit of rain last week, but other than that we’ve had sunshine and a little wind which is good for harvest.” He continued, “Our customers are happy that we’re up and going, and we definitely have plenty of business, so movement is good. The market is good as well. It’s been steady. And the quality we’re bringing in is excellent.” Danny said reds will start soon. “We are about two weeks out for start-up on our red program, which is about normal,” he said, and he noted “We are in good shape for trucks at this point. They’ve been pretty easy to get.”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID, reported to us on April 12 that “all onions mostly planted up here except for a few stragglers.” He added, “Weather this spring so far has been coolish and windy with some timely rain showers on the lower levels and much-needed snow up in the mountain passes. I will update crop progress and assessments next week as they continue to start busting through the volcanic soil.”