Vidalia onion losses could be as much as 30% - The Packer

Vidalia onion losses could be as much as 30%

04/25/2012 09:09:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Courtesy Sweet Onion Trading Co.(UPDATED COVERAGE, April 26) Shippers of Vidalia and Texas sweet onions said sizes will continue to be on the small side this season, and Vidalia losses due to downy mildew could be as high as 20% to 30%.

For Weslaco, Texas-based The Onion House, the South Texas sweet onion deal is expected to wind down between May 5 and May 10, two to three weeks earlier than normal, said Don Ed Holmes, the company’s president.

South Texas onions will be on the small side for the balance of the deal, Holmes said April 23.

Mike Martin, president of Mission, Texas-based Rio Queen Inc., had a different take on the Texas onion deal.

Rio Queen expects to ship until May 20-25, a typical end. And though size profile is slightly smaller this season, the company will have plenty of jumbos and colossals for late-season shipments, Martin said.

Vidalia onions also will be on the small side this season, said Derek Rodgers, sales manager of Melbourne, Fla.-based Sweet Onion Trading Co.

“Colossals will be tough to come by, and jumbos will also be down,” he said. “We’ll have a real good supply of mediums. It will be a good chance to promote 3- and 5-pound bags.”

Also like Texas, Vidalias will stop shipping sooner than normal, Rodgers said.

Sweet Onion Trading typically wraps up its Vidalias at the end of May, Rodgers said. This year, it will be the second or third week of May.

Losses for Lyons, Ga.-based L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms Inc. will likely be 15% to 20%, but industry-wide losses could be closer to 30%, said John Williams, the company’s sales and marketing manager.

Herndon said the company’s harvest will end about mid-May, with product likely shipping into early August, Williams said.

Size issues aside, the quality of the 2012 crop is outstanding, Williams said.

“The weather’s been beautiful the past few weeks,” he said. “We’re really pleased with how we came out on the other side of (the downy mildew outbreak).”

Rodgers has heard loss estimates higher than the 20% first forecast when downy mildew began showing up, but he thinks that early estimate will likely wind up being fairly accurate.

In addition to a big hailstorm in Texas in late March, more hail and rains the weekend of April 21-22 affected some onion fields, though damage was isolated, Holmes said.

But even bad weather hasn’t been able to jump-start markets this spring, Holmes said.

“It didn’t affect the price like we thought it would,” he said. “April has been one of the worst months for demand I can remember.”

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