With summer heat having largely held off during the growing season, the 2014-15 onion crop out of the Columbia Basin in Oregon and Washington appeared to be headed for an early start, growers and shippers said.
First shipments were thought to be likely by late July, in a few cases, with the deal up and running across the area in early August, suppliers said.
“The weather has been great and the crop is good,” said Shawn Hartley, owner of Syracuse, Utah-based Utah Onions Inc., which grows product in Washington, Oregon and Utah.
Rainfall has been adequate and has been serving as a complement to daytime temperatures that stayed below the feared 100-degree levels, growers said.
“The crop looks good. It looks healthy,” said Brenden Kent, vice president of sales and marketing for Sunset Produce LLC, Prosser, Wash.
There has been enough heat to nurture onion growth, he said.
“My understanding is we’ve been 3 or 4 degrees above normal this year — one of the warmer springs we’ve had in awhile — and it’s basically been real conducive for good stands, the crop looking healthy overall, getting the heat units that it needs,” Kent said.
Mid-90s was a typical daytime high, he said.
Kent, whose company ships more than 4 million bags of onions that it grows on nearly 4,000 acres around Prosser, stopped short of speculating on the upcoming market.
“Obviously, a lot can happen, but I would estimate we’d probably start in that $8-9 range, depending on how many onions are available at that time and who all comes onboard,” he said.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 50-pound sacks of yellow hybrid onions from California’s San Joaquin Valley were priced at $9-10 for supercolossal; $7.50-9, colossal; $7-8, jumbo; and $7-7.50, medium.
A year earlier, the same product was $10 for supercolossal; $7-8.50, colossal; $6-7.50, colossal; $6-7.50, jumbo; and $5.50-7, medium.
The crop is looking good for River Point Farms in Hermiston, Ore., as well.
“Our spring planted crop looks very good at this time,” said Carly Kwak, sales director.
Stands were good and early growth was excellent, Kwak said.
“The onion market has been dynamic this year,” she said.
Bryon Magnaghi, produce trader for FC Bloxom, a Seattle wholesaler that works with a number of grower-shippers in the region, said the outlook for the crop was positive.
“I think in general, the crop looks really good right now,” he said.
The only concern would be a late blast of 100-degree heat, but that risk comes with the territory, Magnaghi said.