Onion grower-shippers in Idaho and eastern Oregon are looking forward to a solid season.
Acreage is about average, although up slightly, according to some.
“As an area, I’d say acreage is up maybe 3% or 4%,” said Kay Riley, general manager of Snake River Produce Inc., Nyssa, Ore.
In an average year, about 21,000 acres are planted, according to the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee website.
“We’ve had good strong markets for the last three or four years, so it’s human nature to increase acreage slightly,” Riley said.
So far, weather conditions have been pretty favorable, with a very nice spring and summer. Only in late June did temperatures rise to extremes, but most growers say that isn’t likely to cause major concerns.
“The onions still look quite good,” Riley said.
Riley also said yields look to be good, if not above average. He expects the season to get started around the third week of August.
“For us, we’re about on schedule. Some guys have earlier maturing varieties that may get them going a little quicker this year, but I’m estimating we’ll basically be right in line with last year,” Riley said.
The warm weather has sped up the season for some growers.
“There are some shippers seeing an early harvest. Warm weather has helped to develop the crop earlier,” said Sherise Jones, marketing director of the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee, Parma, Idaho.
Shay Myers, general manager of Owyhee Produce, Nyssa, started harvesting on July 31.
“Overall, the yields look to be about average, but the heat did damage some when we had those days of triple digits,” Myers said.
Jon Watson, president of J.C. Watson Co., Parma, Idaho, agreed it may have been a little too warm but the use of drip irrigation has helped his company stay ahead of excess heat.
“It might cause the season to start a little earlier, but that should give us a comfortable finish,” he said.
In addition, Watson said the market may be ready for onions earlier anyway because California supplies also were expected to end a little early.
Others agree the beginning of the season looks to present a favorable market to Idaho and eastern Oregon growers.
“It appears we may be handed a favorable market trend from California and New Mexico, so we’ll try and supply into that and keep a nice consistent supply,” Watson said.
Unofficial prices for Aug. 11 were listed at $14 for a yellow Spanish hybrid 50-pound sack supercolossal, $12-13 for colossal and $9-10 for jumbo, according to the National Potato and Onion report from the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service.