Onions, spuds off to slow start - The Packer

Onions, spuds off to slow start

07/15/2011 11:24:00 AM
Amelia Freidline

Like the state’s other summer vegetables, growers say they expect planting delays to cause later than normal starts for their onions and potatoes.

Onions normally begin harvesting late in the summer around Labor Day. Potatoes also begin production in late August.

Onions

A wetter-than-normal spring kept growers out of the fields during May planting.

John Williams, partner with Williams Farms LLC, Marion, N.Y., said the Elba area in western New York sustained high levels of rain damage, reducing planted acreage from 2,000 acres to less than 500 acres.

“We have some spots where we have lost some onions,” Williams said in mid-June.

“What we have growing looks good now.”

Williams said he expects to begin harvesting yellow cooking onions on Labor Day and to market them early November through early May.

He called last year’s deal strong but said yields were about 25% less than normal.

Bland Farms Inc., Glennville, Ga., plans to begin harvesting its Empire Sweets onions in mid-August, a couple of weeks later than the normal early August start, said Richard Pazderski, director of sales and marketing.

Like last season, Pazderski said May rains this year made planting difficult. He said the rains prevented some acreage from being planted.

“Last year, we didn’t make a really good crop,” Pazderski said.

“It was very small. If things go well this season, the weather is good and the crop sizes up like we hope it will, we will have as good volume as we had last year. We’re taking the optimistic approach. We’re expecting a high quality crop that has good sizings.”

Bland plans to begin shipping its yellow onion storage crop in November.

Torrey Farms Inc., Elba, N.Y., plans to begin its harvesting of yellow globe and red globe onions in early September and end its fresh harvest in mid-October with its storage deal running through May.

Maureen Marshall, vice president, said last year brought a strong deal.

“We had good movement and prices remained consistent,” she said.

In its first season report in late August last year, the USDA reported that yellow globe-type 50-pound sacks mediums 2¼-inch minimum and 2-inch minimum from western and central New York sold for $11-12.

Potatoes

Torrential rains that gutted plantings should delay potato production by up to two weeks, Williams said. Last year, Williams Farms finished planting May 29. This year’s heavy rains had Williams planting through June 14.

“There should be a little gap, probably a week or two where nothing will be really ready (in late August),” Williams said in mid-June.

“It will be after Labor Day when we can get going on the storage crop.”

Williams Farms plans to begin harvesting small volumes of round whites, reds and yukon golds in late August. He said Lake Ontario growers like to finish by Oct. 10 and store through late May and early June.

Williams called last season’s prices favorable.

Marshall said the grower-shipper planned to begin harvesting its round white storage potatoes in early to mid-October with shipments beginning in mid-November.

She said last year brought consistent movement.

“The storage deal nationally doesn’t affect us as much,” Marshall said.

“People either want a russet or a round white. Round whites are good for mashed potatoes.”



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