Onion Market And Crop UpdateJune 3, 2022
CA Imperial/ Central Valleys/Texas/Mexico/Vidalia:
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA, told us on June 1 that demand is typical for early June. “If you look at the numbers over the last couple of weeks, shipments are down,” he said. “That’s pretty typical for early June. Plus, there is transitioning going on and you might say a little bit of a gap with Texas and Mexico pretty much finishing up. Then you have the Northwest storage shippers finished, which makes more room for the fresh onion market.” He added, “We are moving up in California from the Imperial Valley to Central California, and we are moving good volumes of Vidalias, too. The major growers in Vidalia should have full storages that will provide good supplies for the summer, and that’s encouraging for East Coast customers.” Dan went on to say, “It does seem like buyers are making decisions based on freight costs, and that is no different from other produce categories. Once you weigh the costs, any produce buyer, including onion buyers, is going to try to reduce freight costs and try to get onions as close to the destination as possible.” On the market, Dan said it’s steady. “Pricing has been good, and we can’t complain if we can sell less for more money, right? So the market is steady now, and the pricing is good. As the summer goes along and more onions are available, that could flatten out some, but as I said, there really isn’t much to complain about.”
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported in from California on June 1. “Demand for Troy Caston’s Imperial Valley onions is good this week,” he said. “We have this week and next, and then we will be finishing up. We have about 20 acres of yellows in the field, and so we are moving jumbo and medium reds and jumbo and colossal yellows.” John continued, “We’ve been putting in about 10-hour days and packing at night to get through everything, only taking Monday off, so we’ve been able to keep up. Packing at night makes it easier for trucks, too, because lately trucks have been arriving late in the day. That way the timing ends up working out well for us.” On the market, John said it’s steady. “All season long we’ve had a good market, and the growers have been able to make some money, so we really don’t have any complaints – it really has been a great season.” He concluded, “We’ll just have to see how the rest of the summer plays out and then into the storage stuff. After we wrap it up here at Caston Farms, we’ll be moving up to Five Points and selling a little out of New Mexico too.”
Five Points, CA/New Mexico:
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, us on June 1 that demand is good this week. “We are moving quite a few jumbo reds and yellows out of New Mexico and all sizes and colors out of the Five Points/Heron region of California,” he said. “New Mexico is getting ramped up. We started there last week, and the quality out of both California and New Mexico is excellent.” He continued, “The market has remained steady, too. Knock on wood that we can hold it. And with more onions coming on, we need to keep from dropping our drawers just to sell onions. There isn’t any need to.” On freight, Jason said trucks are available. “You can get trucks, but they are expensive, and with fuel prices continuing to escalate, that’s not going to change any time soon.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum told us on June 1 that his team is selling onions out of California, Arizona and New Mexico, with a few out of Mexico. “Well, we wrapped up Texas, and there is just a little bit coming out of Mexico,” he said. “We have good demand this week, and buyers are looking for all colors and sizes.” He continued, “The market is good, too – steady and holding. The quality has been ‘summer goodness.’ We are making good deliveries and inspections, but it never ceases to amaze me that when I send photos of summer onions every April, some buyers can complain about the skins. But they are summer onions, dude! The quality is good.” When asked about freight, Rick said it’s about the same. “Looks like rates might be trending up, but at this time in 2020, during the pandemic, the rates were higher, so I guess that makes it OK. You can still get trucks, and they are expensive, but this is nothing new.” Rick also noted that he is currently taking contracts for storage season.
James Johnson with Carzalia Valley Produce in Columbus told us on June 1, “New Mexico is late and getting a slow start. Seems like sizes are smaller, too, because of it.” He added, “Quality is excellent in most lots, with only a few seed stem lots that I’ve seen. All three colors plus sweets are shipping.” James said he’s looking at finishing the New Mexico season mid-August.
Dan Borer with Keystone Fruit Marketing in Walla Walla, WA told us on June 1 that the Walla Walla sweet onion crop is progressing well. “Everything is so green and lush,” he said. “We have had a little cooler weather, and the moisture we’ve received has been good for the crop. It’s about as beautiful as I have ever seen it here, and the fields look really nice.” He went on to say, “We expect to have a very good crop, and we are looking forward to having the volumes necessary for the July 4th holidays. With buyers trying to avoid high freight costs, we expect we will have good movement on Walla Wallas in the West, so we are in good shape for mid-June to start up.” Many thanks to Dan for sending the beautiful Walla Walla crop photos.
Michael Locati with Locati Farms and Pacific Agra Farms told us on June 1 he expects to start harvest around June 10 and begin shipping by June 14, a bit later than he initially thought. “The cool weather set us back a little,” he said, noting the onions look great and quality is looking excellent. “It’s getting warmer now, and that’s what we need,” he said. In addition to the traditional Walla Walla Sweets, Michael also grows Rosé Walla Walla Sweets, a red variety of the famed onion. “They’ll be ready a little later than the others, and we’re hoping to have them by July 4,” he said.
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, told us on June 1 that Eagle Eye’s Northwest growers’ crops are coming along well. “We are a bit behind due to the cooler weather, but with a few warmer days, we should be able to catch up quickly,” he said. “I will say that we have plenty of onions planted, and so we’ll have good availability. And we don’t anticipate any gap when we transition to the Northwest. So the summer is shaping up well for us.”