Despite extreme drought and heat, grower-shippers of Colorado vegetables expect good quality and yields this summer.
The Onion House, Weslaco, Texas, expects to begin shipping sweet yellow onions from Colorado’s Western Slope about Aug. 15, president Don Ed Holmes said.
“They say the crop is running along really well,” Holmes said.
Growers dealt with freezes early in the season, but by mid-July warm weather had onions running ahead of schedule, he said. Warm weather is seldom a problem for the Colorado deal.
“It’s a little warmer than usual, which for that area is good,” Holmes said. Cool growing weather often prevents tops from falling off naturally, he said.
Tommy Rusler, manager of Pueblo, Colo.-based Rusler Produce Inc., describes the onion growing season as “terribly dry.” But not too dry to produce a very good crop as of mid-July.
“The quality looks outstanding, and yields are at least average,” he said.
Rusler Produce expects to begin harvest in mid- to late July, about a week earlier than usual, Rusler said. The company expects to harvest about 100 acres, slightly less than last year, and to ship through the first or second week of September.
The company expects to ship a similar mix of yellows, whites and reds this year, Rusler said. The company’s offerings tilt toward yellows, but maintaining a full varietal line is important, he said.
Fagerberg Produce Co., Eaton, Colo., began shipping yellow onions about July 23, with whites and reds expected to follow a week to 10 days later, said Alan Kinoshita, sales manager.
Despite drought conditions that have reached dire levels for growers in Southern Colorado, yields and sizing should be normal this season, Kinoshita said. Acreage likely will be lower than last season, however, possibly by 1,000 acres.
The Onion House will kick off its Colorado onion deal with intermediate-day sweet hybrids, grown on about 150 acres, Holmes said.
Those onions will be hand-topped and cured and packed in the field for immediate shipment.
About three weeks to a month after the intermediate-day harvest begins, The Onion House plans to begin machine-harvesting about 500 acres of Colorado storage yellows, whites and red, Holmes said.
The Onion House expects to transition from intermediates to storage onions about Oct. 1, with storage shipments lasting through January, Holmes said.
The Onion House’s Colorado acreage is down about 10% this season, he said. As in past years, the company expects about 80% of production to be yellows, 10% whites and 10% reds.
Carrots, cabbage fight heat
The weather was keeping Greeley, Colo.-based Hungenberg Produce Co. on its toes, but so far, so good, said Jordan Hungenberg, salesman and food safety manager.
“(It’s) been a battle every day with all the problems we’ve had with extreme heat and water shortages,” he said. But “our crop is as strong as we’ve ever seen.”
“Carrots are all growing nicely,” Hungenberg said, and started July 16. “Our cabbage crop is also looking strong. We’ve worked diligently to keep everything wet.”