Shippers look forward to brisk movement - The Packer

Shippers look forward to brisk movement

03/03/2014 12:26:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Grower-shippers expect robust demand for Texas onions this season.

Thanks to a cool winter, Texas onions are maturing several weeks later than normal, though weather in late February and March could change that, said Don Ed Holmes, owner of The Onion House LLC, Weslaco, Texas.

Even if onions are harvested significantly later than usual, Holmes isn’t worried about Texas running into other deals, creating gluts and bringing prices down.

That’s because the Vidalia deal also is running late.

Vidalia grower-shippers typically begin shipping in mid-April. In mid-February, the Vidalia start was looking to be closer to early to mid-May, Holmes said.

Add to that the fact that Vidalia growers typically like to store their onions before shipping them, and Holmes isn’t overly worried about the Texas and Vidalia deals overlapping.

“They’re not going to cut into our window as much as they have in the past,” he said.

Holmes expects robust demand when Texas begins shipping this spring. Brisk movement, particularly on the export side, in Pacific Northwest deals, and the signs out of other growing areas are looking good, he said.

“Idaho/Oregon is up year-to-date, Washington is up and Mexico is down,” he said. “Lighter supplies should mean higher prices. It looks like it should be a good deal.”

In addition, Holmes said, Mexican production will likely be similar to last season, and possibly down, so Texas shippers won’t likely have to worry about a glut of product from south of the border softening demand for onions from the Lone Star State.

In Texas’ Winter Garden growing area, Mexican and Rio Grande Valley deals aren’t expected to negatively affect demand, said J Allen Carnes, owner of Winter Garden Produce, Uvalde, Texas.

“Usually by the time we start, Mexico’s over and the people in the valley are cleaning up,” Carnes said. “We share a niche with California’s Imperial Valley. (Competition from Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley) generally is not a big factor for us.”

Weather could affect deals that come after the Winter Garden’s window, but it won’t likely be significant, Carnes said.

“There was a winter around the country for the first time in five or six years, but as far as I know, it should be a smooth transition.”

Troy Bland, operations director for Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms, also expects strong demand for Texas onions this spring.

“I think we’re headed for a strong spring market for all onions,” he said. “We feel pretty confident about the latter part of March and April, and expect a smooth transition to Vidalia.”

Texas is running a week to 10 days late, but so is Vidalia, he said. The two should cancel each other out.

The one possible hiccup, Bland said, could be early in the deal, when Texas overlaps with Mexico.

“We’re a little concerned about when Mexico really kicks off,” he said. “There’s always overlap, but this year there could be more than we’d like.”

The Texas sweet onion crop has been delayed by cold weather by about a couple of weeks, said Michael Davis, co-owner of Tex-Mex Sales LLC, Weslaco, Texas.

But it’s far from alone.

“As cold as we’ve been, it’s worse in Vidalia,” Davis said.

“We think we’ll have a good marketing window in April. There’s lot of interest in them. I think retailers would love to know when they can start Texas.”

The weather also could proved to be a boon to Texas growers on the front end of the deal, Davis said.

“It gives the Northwest a few extra weeks to market their product.”

Davis also expects a smooth transition from Mexico to Texas this season.

“The Mexican market is very good. I think movement will be very orderly.”

The 1015 remains a strong draw for U.S. retailers, Davis said.



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