Grower-shippers reported strong demand for high-quality onions as new domestic and import deals ramp up.

Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga., began loading Peruvian sweet onions in early August, but as of early September, volumes were slow to ramp up, said John Shuman, the company’s president.

“Year-to-date, there are about half as many containers compared to last year,” Shuman said Sept. 3.

Volumes should pick up in late September or early October, Shuman said.

Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc., Greencastle, Pa., will wrap up its domestic sweet deals in the next few weeks, then shift the majority of its production to Peru, Marty Kamer, the company’s vice president, said Sept. 3.

“The early sweet onion crop in Peru is coming in nicely — adequate volume and size of onions for our core business.”

Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms expects to start shipping in volume from Peru the week of Sept. 8, said Troy Bland, the company’s operations director.

The quality of early-season shipments has been outstanding, Bland said, and Bland Farms is peaking on jumbos, with plenty of colossals and mediums also available to meet demand.

“We couldn’t ask for much more out of Peru.”

The Onion House LLC, Weslaco, Texas, expects to begin shipping onions from Colorado about Sept. 10 and Utah about Oct. 1, said Don Ed Holmes, owner.

“We have real nice crops coming from both areas,” he said.

Shuman also reported good quality and size on early-season Peruvians.

Unseasonably cool weather for three weeks delayed a Colorado crop that had been running ahead of schedule, Holmes said. The crop now will be shipping about a week later than normal.

Utah onions will begin shipping right on time for The Onion House, Holmes predicted. Colorado volumes should be up and Utah volumes about the same as last season for The Onion House.

Peruvian prices should stabilize as Peruvian volumes increase, Shuman said, but he expects demand to remain strong.

“Peru has a pretty clear path. As far as true flat, sweet onions, they’re pretty limited now.”

On Sept. 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $22-24 for 40-pound cartons of jumbo yellow granex onions from Peru, up from $14-16 last year at the same time.

Kamer expected demand for Peruvian product to be “excellent” through fall and into winter.

With some sizing problems in Western onions deals, demand should be strong for Colorado and Utah onions, which are sizing big this year, Holmes said.

“We have a lot of people looking for jumbos, colossals and super-colossals.”

The Onion House expects to ship Colorado and Utah onions into January. The company should begin its Mexican sweet deal about Jan. 15, Holmes said.

A tropical storm in early September in Mexico missed most of the growing area from which The Onion House sources, Holmes said.