Supplies could be tight and markets strong through mid-November, possibly affecting Thanksgiving markets, said Art Barrientos, vice president of harvesting for Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms.
Mid-September volumes were running up to 20% lower than is typical for that time of year, Barrientos said.
Volumes and markets could be affected through the end of the year, said Mark McBride, salesman for Salinas, Calif.-based Coastline Produce.
“The onions are limited severely by Mother Nature, and it looks like it will continue,” McBride said.
Supplies could fluctuate slightly, he said, but they won’t likely return to normal levels for some time.
Jeff Post, salesman for Salinas-based Ippolito International LP, said depressed summer markets for green onions disappeared in a hurry, thanks both to the bad weather and stronger demand.
“It looks like the stage could be set for some decent markets,” he said. “It didn’t take much: a couple of storms, and we’ve had really good demand. The market spiked pretty hard.”
On Sept. 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $20.65-22.75 for cartons of bunched medium 48s from Mexico, up from $13.50-15.35 last year at the same time.
A hot summer in Mexicali produced challenges of its own, Barrientos said. Then two storms he classified as monsoons hit the Mexicali region, causing further damage.
The quality of green onions shipping in mid-September was good, McBride said, but growers are so anxious to get product to market because of the shortage, many are picking earlier than usual, which is affecting size.
“The percentage of mediums isn’t as high as we would like.”
But Barrientos agreed with McBride that the quality of green onions shipping in mid-September was very good.
Growers picking early, thereby reducing size profile, should prolong the overall volume shortages, Post said.