Drought conditions affecting growing regions across the Midwest haven’t spread to the Treasure Valley, but growers have noticed the high temperatures. Fortunately, the heat hasn’t damaged the crop.
“Although we have seen an extremely dry and relatively hot season, the crop appears to be average, with an expectation of excellent quality,” Troy Seward, owner and president of Golden West Produce, Nyssa, Ore., said in an e-mail.
Normal harvest, quality
Despite the heat, this year should bring a more normal season and harvest than last year’s late start because of cool, wet weather in early spring.
“The crop looks very good, and actually the onions have responded pretty well to the heat,” said Sherise Jones, marketing director for the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee.
“We aren’t experiencing a shortage of water in our area, fortunately,” she said.
Kay Riley, general manager at Snake River Produce Co., Nyssa, Ore., says the growing season has been pretty successful so far.
“Temperatures are warm, but not too extreme,” he said. “We haven’t had near the issues they’ve had other places. We’re actually doing pretty good.”
Brad Watson, vice president of operations for J.C. Watson Packing Co., Parma, Idaho, agrees that despite the heat, this year has had better weather than last year.
“Last year was a tough spring from a growing standpoint,” Watson said.
This year, Watson reports more typical conditions.
“We had some early hail storms, but the crop appears to have recovered and we have a healthy crop,” he said.
The company expected a typical harvest beginning in mid-August.
“We’re more on track with the historical average,” he said.
Of course, Watson doesn’t rule out the possibility the heat could affect those expectations.
“The crop looks strong today, but we have more heat coming, so things can change,” he said.
Some say the combination of the storms this spring and the heat through the summer have evened out to result in a normal growing season.
“Early in the growing season, the weather was a problem. We had high winds and a few hail storms that passed through the area, but lately the weather has been hot and dry so crop should have normal yields,” Les Alderete, production and grower development director for L&M Cos., Inc., Raleigh, N.C., said in an e-mail.
Brent Ishida, president of Giant Produce Inc., Parma, Idaho, agrees the crop appears to be doing well despite some early-season setbacks.
“We had some challenges earlier which led to some thinner stands, but there are a number of good stands, too,” he said.
Ishida says quality is good despite some lower quantities.
“We’re maybe going to be down about 10%, and I think everyone else is pretty much experiencing the same,” he said.
“It’s been 90-plus degrees for quite some time, and it looks like, in the forecast, that we will be continuing that trend for a while still,” Ishida said.
“The heat has been tough on the crop, and there’s not much you can do about it. Just keep them wet.”
He expects to see smaller-sized onions as a result of the high temperatures.
“They just don’t grow as well as they do in you’re in the 80s, so it does affect sizing,” he said.
Jones still is confident growers will be able to provide a variety of sizes, even though it can sometimes be a challenge.