(Oct. 8)The Mexican green onion deal started around the beginning of October, about a week early, grower-shippers say, and they were met with less competition as a result of diminishing California supplies.

Grower-shippers said the lack of competition has kept prices higher than usual at the start of the season.

“We are quoting an $8.10 f.o.b. for 4-dozen bunch cartons of large green onions and $9.10 on mediums,” said Jesse Gomez, product manager for green onions at NewStar/Ceres Fresh Foods LLC, Salinas, Calif. “That is a pretty decent price for the beginning of the season.”

Last year at this time, 4-dozen bunch cartons of mediums were going for $5.60-6.85, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market News Service.
Gomez said the company received its first Mexican green onion shipment from the Mexicali Valley region Oct. 3, and the company was sending its second crew to work the fields Oct. 14.

“That time frame is about one week early, which is working out good for us because we finished one week early in Baja California,” Gomez said.

Gomez said the Mexican supplies were early because of a combination of good weather and the company’s anticipation of an early California finish.

Don Hobson, vice president of sales and marketing for Boskovich Farms, Oxnard, Calif., said Oct. 7 that the company was winding down its California production and just beginning its Mexican green onion program from the San Luis Valley in Sonora.

Boskovich received its first shipments the first week of October, but by Nov. 1 it will be in full swing, with peak production coming from Mexico.

Gomez said the quality of the green onions was starting out a little better than last year.

“The good quality means the stands seem to be better so we should have better yields starting out,” Gomez said. “Last year during October and part of November, yields were lower overall, so barring any storms or desertwinds, we should be good.”

Sizing also has been good for the start of the season.

“This is probably the best front-end size we have seen in the past eight years,” said Leonard Cole, vice president of sales and marketing for Muranaka Farms Inc., Moorpark, Calif. “I think the weather cooperated perfectly. We had a lot of heat, but all in all, it was a milder summer in the desert.”

Cole said there has been a good amount of mediums, larges and jumbos so far. He said the company was running about 70% mediums and larges and 30% pencil size. Gomez said Oct. 7 that NewStar was peaking on 50% small, 25% medium and 25% large. He forecast the next week to bring about an even split between all three sizes.

Most grower-shippers say volume should be similar to last year, while a few were reporting about 5% volume increases. Gomez said the company would average 55,000 to 65,000 4-dozen bunch cartons, with more than 50% of those packed iceless.

Most of the Mexican green onion deals should continue through May.