Market and Crop Update for Onions


Organic Onions:
Brad Sumner with Pacific Coast Trading Co. in Portland, OR, said on Sept. 14 that his company is shipping out of California and Washington now, and he added, “Demand is steady, and medium yellows still a short item with extra demand.” The market, he said, is “steady, with jumbo yellows slightly weaker.” Brad also said, “Quality remains good but will get better as we move out of transplants and intermediate varieties into long days.” And he noted, “After some organic crop was coming off late due to a cool growing season, now some recent rain has further delayed harvest for some growers. Supply should increase over the next few weeks.”

John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms in Salem, OR, reported in on Sept. 14. “Demand has been good this week,” he said. “Jumbo yellows are the hot ticket item right now. Overall the demand has been good enough to keep the market up, and that’s important.” John added, “We do need to keep in mind that more areas are coming on, but truthfully it’s going to be another three to four weeks before we really know what the availability is going to look like for the season, and then we’ll be able to access where the market is going. Plus, we’ll see what Mexico, Texas, and the Imperial Valley will do as far as planting goes.” He continued, “I don’t know all the ins and outs of the California water issue, but I do know that may have an impact on what the Imperial Valley does for planting. So what happens in the next month or so really does have an effect on how 2023 will work out onion-wise. I would hate to see some U.S. onion areas decline in planting so we are forced to take in more product from across the border, which has can translate to lower food safety standards, and the list goes on. What happens this fall determines a lot going forward.” John noted that the onion quality has been good. “We have been really pleased with the quality coming out of both areas we are shipping out of, so no issues there. On the other hand, the railroad strike is something to watch. All I know is, I wouldn’t be loading any rail cars right now, that’s for sure.”

Washington/Rocky Ford, CO/Ulysses, KS:
Trent Faulkner with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us on Sept. 14 that L&M’s shipping areas are moving all colors. “We are shipping all colors from our Warden, WA, areas as well as out of our Rocky Ford and Ulysses operations,” he said. “We will be gapping on whites out of Warden for a couple of weeks, and the onions coming out of Colorado and Kansas are leaning to smaller sizing, but we have availability in all colors and sizes depending on where we are shipping from.” Trent continued, “Demand is very good for jumbos in all colors, and if that was all we were making, we wouldn’t have any onions on the floor. Overall, demand is steady for the availability, and we really have no complaints there.” He also said, “As far as the market goes, it is super-hot for larger sizes, and we see a trend upward there. The market remains steady on smaller stuff, but I wouldn’t say it is moving north right now.” Trent said L&M has been pleased with quality. “Overall, we have been very happy with the quality coming from all operations, and I should add that the yellows we are shipping are absolutely gorgeous.” On transportation, Trent said it’s better than it has been over the last two years. “Don’t get me wrong – rates aren’t as good as there were four or five years ago, but comparing the last two years, we are definitely in a better spot for freight. Trucks seem to be more available, more lanes have opened up and the rates seem to have come off over this time last year. At L&M we work to secure freight contracts so we can be confident the onions are shipping, and that process has gone smoothly this year,” he said.

Idaho-E. Oregon/Washington:
Jason Pearson with Eagle Produce in Nyssa, OR, told us on Sept.14 that demand is slightly slower this week. “Demand has come off a little this week,” he said. “That works for us because it allows us to focus more on harvest and getting the onions in. On the demand that we have this week, yellows and reds are doing well, but we do have some demand for whites.” Jason added, “Buyers are looking for larger sizes. I will say there are plenty of medium yellows out there. Medium reds do seem to be a hot ticket item.” Jason noted the market has dipped. “The market has dipped a little, which is totally unnecessary. Based on the onion availability and growers trying to get through harvest, it makes no sense to drop pricing. If everyone stuck to the same price, the onions would move regardless, and this time of year everyone is working to get through harvest, so it seems like we should be holding and taking care of harvest at this time.” On quality, Jason said, “We have been really happy with quality! The onions are looking great!” Jason did mention the looming rail strike. “Transportation seems to be a little tighter this week. We do want to keep an eye on the potential rail strike. If that happens, we will be in a tough situation with onions that are bound for rail moving to the truck freight side.”

Idaho-E. Oregon:
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, told us on Sept. 14 demand has dipped some. “Demand this week is down from the previous few weeks,” he said. “Shipments last week were fairly high, which is contributing to the slower demand this week.” Steve said the operation is shipping mostly yellows and reds “with a few whites mixed in,” and he said, “I would say demand is even across the board on all sizes and colors.” The market, he said, “has leveled off from last week’s price increases.” Steve also said, “The quality has been very nice. The yellow onions are starting to get more color as we are finishing up green top onions.” Also, he said transportation has been good. “Transportation at this time has not been an issue. We have plenty of trucks/truck brokers calling looking for loads.”

Josh Frederick with Snake River Produce in Nyssa, OR, shared some numbers with us on Sept. 14, saying that jumbo yellows counting 56-58, black Snake River Produce label; medium yellows counting 110-115, Best Catch label; 25# jumbo reds counting 30, and Josh said SRP can pack 50# with notice; 50# jumbo whites counting 55 to 57; and 50# medium whites counting 113-115. He said, “Harvest is going good, and the crop so far has been decent. The cooler temps now sure make it nice, and we were able to get about 80 percent of our crop lifted and will finish Friday/Saturday. We are bringing in all three colors, and the demand has been steady.” Josh added “Market has been holding good for the most part. I believe we will see business continue to be steady, and then once things are put in storage, everyone will evaluate their yields and what they will have for production this season.” Our thanks to Josh for the photos this week as well. 

Colorado Western Slope:
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, told us on Sept. 14 that his Delta, CO, deal had kicked off over the previous weekend and is now shipping all three colors in all sizes. Quality is excellent, he said, and transportation has not been a major issue. David said onions will start shipping from storage in four to six weeks.

Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX. said on Sept. 14 that business has been good for his Montrose deal. The Olathe shed started shipping last week with yellows and reds, and all colors are shipping now. He added, “Trucks are tough, and labor is short.”

From Onion Business