Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor, WI, told us March 15 volumes are picking up for Gumz. “We still have a good supply of medium yellows,” Doug said. “I anticipate that we will be shipping into the first of second week of May. We had a little warm weather lately, which is not conducive to storing onions, but the temperatures have dropped back down to a good level, so we’re happy about that.”
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, said shipments coming out of Texas are very light at this point in the season. “There are only about a half dozen shippers shipping out of Texas right now,” Dan said. “The rainy weather has slowed down harvest. As soon as it dries out, harvest will pick back up.” Dan said it’s hard to tell what the volume will end up looking like out of Texas, noting that he’s gotten reports indicating acreage is down for the season.
Ryan Stewart with Fort Boise Produce in Parma, ID, said on March 15, “The market this week seems a little more active than it has been, and we’re busy out of our area.” He said Fort Boise will ship through mid-April, and he added that quality is holding up well. “We’re down to our last whites, and there’s been more interest on whites lately. We’re still moving reds and yellows as well.”
Chris Woo with Murakami Produce Co. LLC in Ontario, OR, reported demand is moderate this week, and the market has been steady at “lower than desired prices.” Chris said, “Prices are still low because Texas and Mexico are getting in our way.” He noted, “I really don’t see that changing anytime soon. It is possible the market could increase when shippers in our region start finishing up, but only time will tell.” Chris also commented, “Overall our movement is doing well. Though the Northeast is getting hit with storms and it’s hard to get shipments in, it’s not really affecting us because we are so diversified. When you ship coast to coast, spotty regional weather issues don’t have much impact.” On quality, he said there haven’t been any issues with what is going in the bag, and he said Murakami has adequate supplies of yellows and reds with limited supplies on whites. The company will be shipping into May.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, offered a general market perspective for Washington this week. “There are still good supplies and very good quality coming out of Washington,” he said. “Though the Idaho-Eastern Oregon shippers were affected by the winter storms and lost product, overall that will not impact the market. Shippers aren’t super enthusiastic about the balance of the season, but we are all focused on moving these onions. We have below average pricing for this time of year, but if you look at the statistics, we are above the 10-year average for shipments. You have to put everything into prospective.”
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, reported to us that Mexico shipments got off to a slower start than normal. “When we got started, it was a bit slower coming out of Mexico, but then it really started cranking up,” Dan said. “These last several days, we have had a bit of weather that has slowed down harvest, but we really don’t anticipate this will have much effect on the overall Mexican shipments of our ‘flats-sweet onions.’ We have had what could be considered a banner year for quality. The weather conditions in Mexico throughout the year have been excellent, and the pricing is stable.”
John Harris with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Collins and Denver, CO, told us market conditions have improved in the past couple of weeks. “Movement seems to have picked up some since February,” John said. “It is normal for this time of year, but still not terribly active. We are in a little bit of new territory this year. The market is in flux between old crop and switching to new crop. It is early, but it is also happening.” He continued, “Markets are very depressed in the Northwest, and the shippers compete for market share. Yellows and reds are as low as we have seen since 2007. Whites are in short supply in the Northwest, and in a normal year, this might be a bright spot. However, Mexico continues to bring just enough volume to keep the prices down as well. Texas will have onions soon as well – as soon as they finish drying out from the heavy rainfall they received at the end of last week. It might be a blessing they don’t have any more than they do for the time being.”
California Imperial Valley:
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms told us, “California onions are progressing nicely. There were 90-plus degree temperatures last week, and onions seem to be on target for a late April start date.”
Walla Walla, Washington:
Kathy Fry-Trommald, director of marketing at the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Committee, told us on March 14 the 2017 fall-planted crop is progressing nicely, although the region did receive snow recently. “I talked to one of our growers a few days ago, and it’s looking good,” she said. “We got a lot of snow and cold this past winter, but the onions are insulated, and we’re expecting only minimal weather damage. The stands look very good now, and we anticipate a June 10-15 start to our season barring any weather issues.” Kathy said she’s in the process of establishing the line-up for the Annual Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival, which will take place June 17 and 18. “We’ll have lots of activities, including chef demos and our Funion Runion,” she said. Stay tuned for info as the festival draws nearer.
Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms in Endeavor reported the company’s planting will start the first or second week of April. “The only thing different this year is that we do plan to plant some transplants,” Doug said. “But other than that, our overall acreage won’t change.”