Grower-shippers in Eastern Oregon and Idaho’s Treasure Valley expect strong demand for high-quality onions at the beginning of the season.

Snake River Produce, Nyssa, Ore., expects to begin shipping new-crop onions on Aug. 20, about on time, said Kay Riley, general manager.

One or two sheds in the Treasure Valley were shipping the week of Aug. 4, and a couple more would likely start the week of Aug. 11, Riley said.

A very hot July yielded to a more moderate August, and as of Aug. 6, Riley reported very good growing conditions.

“Overall, the quality should be excellent,” he said. “The disease and other problems we had last year aren’t as evident, and the stands are good. Yields should be a bit better than last year.”

Parma, Idaho-based Champion Produce Inc. and Giant Produce expect to begin shipping the week of Aug. 18, about 10 days earlier than normal, said John Wong, sales manager for Champion, which also handles sales for Giant.

Though onions need to be in storage before the final verdict on quality can be rendered, Wong said, as of Aug. 6, things were looking good.

“So far, so good. We’re expecting great quality.”

Champion and Giant planted similar acreage and expect average-sized crops, Wong said. Red onion acreage continues to increase gradually, as demand for red onions for hamburgers, deli sandwiches and other items ticks up at foodservice, Wong said.

Idaho Falls-based Potandon Produce LLC expects to begin harvesting in the Treasure Valley about Aug. 15, though drought could affect harvest this year, said Dick Thomas, vice president of sales.

“It’s been extremely tight on water, I don’t know whether we’ll have enough to finish off the crop,” Thomas said. “But so far, the crop looks good. They had some rain recently, which should help.”

Drought will affect some production in the valley this season, but it won’t be widespread, Riley said.

“One area will be short, and it will hurt some individual growers, but overall, not too much” effect on production should be felt, he said.

As for demand, Riley expects a good start to the season.

“I think California will finish in reasonable time, New Mexico also. There will definitely be a place for us in the market. We’ve had some inquiries from Mexico, which is good. We haven’t heard about Pacific Rim (demand).”

Wong also expects strong demand at the beginning of the deal, and Thomas said Potandon had a “positive outlook” on demand out of the gate.

On Aug. 5, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $10-11 for 50-pound sacks of yellow hybrid onions from California, up from $7 last year at the same time.

Acreage is up about 2% to 3% in the Treasure Valley this year, Riley said.

Size profile should be right where buyers want it, with onions peaking on jumbos for Snake River Produce, Riley said.

The company also should have adequate supplies for colossals and supercolossals, though demand for the largest sizes has tapered off some in recent years, Riley said.