CA San Joaquin Valley:
Steve Baker at Baker Packing in Ontario, OR, said the market for onions out of the San Joaquin Valley is good but has leveled off. “For yellows, demand is good across the board. We are seeing strong demand for the smaller sizes, and medium yellows are really the hot ticket right now,” Steve said. He also reported that there is plenty of availability for reds. “The market is good for jumbo reds and there is strong demand for medium reds,” he said. Steve said he expects to ship out of the San Joaquin Valley through Aug. 20-25.
Rich Hoffman of Santa Maria Seeds in Bakersfield reported on June 15 that his growers’ season has been going very well so far. Timing has been a little off in that there is a gap in varieties, he said, noting that the recent high heat has brought and end to some varieties very quickly. Some growers are snowing their fields, and regarding the heat, the growers are preparing for the worst – although this week they have gotten a bit of a break and the weather has cooled off. Rich said growers are not counting on the cooler weather to last.
CA/NM/Mexico broker report:
From his office in Fort Collins, broker-distributor John Harris of Paradigm Fresh said the overall onion market has been “a heckuva ride since the first of the year really. The current onion market is above average in terms of FOB price for sure.” John said the biggest challenge for the past month “and what looks like still a month to go” is a lack of medium yellows. “Medium reds and medium whites have been in short supply also but nothing like the medium yellow market. That market is $2-$4 higher in every shipping point in the country over jumbo yellows.” John said whites are a little tight, “but that will be day-to-day and week to week.” John reports that “Central Cal has had a lot of early heat, and the quality hasn’t been great; New Mexico quality has been top-notch.” Washington is starting with overwintered onions this week, he said, “and should have small volumes of product from now until the first of August when that area kicks back into gear.” John said, “Mexico still has daily crossing in various different areas, but it is hit and miss each day. Most of the Mexican quality coming across is pretty good at the moment, although it’s that time of year when quality can be hit or miss as well.”
Bob Sakata at Sakata Farms in Brighton reported on June 15 that his onion crop is “looking great.” If all continues to go smoothly, Sakata Farms will start harvesting and shipping shortly after Labor Day and will ship through March.
Kent Sutherland at J.C. Watson Packing Co. in Parma, ID, said on June 15 that “overall stands look nice, and the crop is on schedule for a normal start up.” Watson will get going the second or third week of August with all colors and all sizes, Kent said.
Steve Baker at Baker Packing in Ontario, OR, said that though there may be a few early fields, he anticipates a normal start time for the season. “Right now there is a wide range of how the stands are looking. Some stands are great and some not so great. Really, the jury is still out on yields. Things can change so rapidly,” Steve said, adding, “We will have to see how the crop progresses until harvest.”
Check out this Bakersfield onion harvest video and images. Courtesy of Robert Bell, Western Onion.