Doug Bulgrin of Gumz Farms in Endeavor, WI, reports Gumz Farms is about 23 percent complete with its harvest. But he added on Sept. 7 that harvest had come to a complete halt because the region received approximately 3.5 inches of rain over a two-day period. Doug said that the weather forecast is for two more inches the night of Sept. 7, which could result in a harvest delay of at least a week. He said, “We were coming into the season a little wet anyway, and this has really pushed us back. Gumz Farms has some supplies on hand, but they are very limited. Since the pricing has started out much lower than it should be, it wouldn’t be surprising if this situation ends up driving up prices because there will be an immediate the decrease in availability, which could be longer term if it affects harvest and we end up having to leave onions in the field.”
Bob Meek of Utah Onions said the company’s Prosser, WA, deal is shipping all colors, sweets and organics, with good demand on all. Onions from both Washington and Utah are very good, prompting Bob to say, “We’re pleased with the quality.”
Dan Borer of Keystone Fruit Co. in Walla Walla, WA, said his company is “fortunate to work with growers who produce a Northwest sweet onion capable of filling the gap between our successful Walla Walla Sweet program and our Peruvian Sweet sales. This is what we are working on right now.” Dan noted, “We had such a terrific season with the Walla Wallas. Everything came together for us this year — we had good growing conditions, great quality, good yields and a very strong market. This season was a real winner for us.” Keystone is now shipping Northwest sweet onions as well as all sizes and colors of storage onion. “We have good supplies of yellows and reds, and right now the supplies are a little tight on whites. We have larger sized onions, but we do have lots with smaller sizes. The weather helped us with getting onion sizes across the board,” Dan said.
In Yerington, NV, Jessica Peri at Peri and Sons told OnionBusiness.com, “We are harvesting and packing now. We started packing on Monday, Sept. 5. Quality, yields and sizing are spot on. The demand for Sweetie Sweets continues to grow as more customers are looking for good quality sweet onions grown in the U.S.A. as opposed to the Peruvian import. The growing conditions were ideal in all locations, it appears. We are now shipping yellows, reds and sweets. Organics will start next week and whites on Sept. 19. We have good volume on organics this year too, with sweets, reds, yellows and whites.”
Bob Meek of Utah Onions in Syracuse told us demand has been good for Utah onions. He said the operation is running mostly yellows but will be shipping whites and reds soon. “Quality is looking good,” Bob said.
Dwayne Fisher at Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, told us that demand “been at a record pace for us at Champion Produce Sales, with all three of our Idaho facilities running with great production numbers.” Dwayne added that pricing has been very steady. “Medium yellows and whites seem to be in very tight supply, and the market has strengthened to the same level or stronger than their jumbo counterparts,” he said, adding, “There is great demand for us on all colors and sizes. Quality continues to be excellent, and each day the onions get better and better in terms of skin and color. We are now lifting all of our onions and will begin putting product in permanent storage this week.”
Derek Ennis of L&M Cos. said IEO demand has been very strong this week and the uptick in demand could be due to receivers wanting to refill supplies and restock after the holiday. “Demand seems to be very good across the board for all colors with a slightly more demand for whites than reds,” Derek said. He also noted the market has been very strong the last couple of days, and pricing is solid. “The quality coming out of IEO has been very nice,” Ennis said. “Sizes are on the larger side and right now, and mediums are a little tight. I expect the market will be good going into next week, and the medium market should continue to stay very strong.”
John Vlahandreas at Wada Farms in Idaho Falls, ID, weighed in on general market conditions, telling OnionBusiness.com, “Looks like the market is settling. Hopefully, we will see some export business to give the price a boost, but for now we seem to be moving in a positive manner. Quality has been exceptional and we do not see anything on the horizon that would lead us to believe any different for the storage portion of the season.”
Other reports on maturation for summer/fall storage onions from the National Onion Association indicate it has been a mixed bag this year. The Northwest came in early; California and Nevada more of what is considered “normal”; Midwest and Northeast anywhere from early to late. Weather interrupted some harvests, although most regions were experiencing very good conditions. As always, Mother Nature determines storability of onions still awaiting harvest.
Sizing is being reported as good in IEO and other Western growing areas. Some smaller sizes in the Midwest and Northeast as well as some areas in the Rocky Mountains. Volume out of the East is expected to be lower than the last two years. The Central U.S. is looking at average to very good quality. Rocky Mountains had some weather challenges, but quality is said to be average to exceptional The West had great growing conditions and good yields and quality. Nevada is seeing an emphasis on sweets this year. The Northwest had good growing weather, which is reflected in good size and quality with mostly average-to-good yields.
Our friends at the National Onion Association are also reporting “moderately active” exports and the likelihood of global market expansion for U.S. shippers.
Thanks to the NOA for keeping its finger on the pulse of the onion market.