A long winter may cause the New Mexico onion season to be a bit later than normal for some growers.
“We expect to start around the first of June, and last year we started around May 22, so we’re a week to 10 days behind. It’s just a tad later due to the cold weather,” said Dale Gillis, owner of Hatch, N.M.-based grower-shipper Desert Springs Produce LLC, in late May.
“We lost probably 20% on some varieties, but not all of them because some were more affected than others,” Gillis said.
Overall, the lower temperatures could mean a smaller harvest coming out of New Mexico.
Charley Johnson, president of Charles Johnson Co., Las Cruces, N.M., said he expects a reduction in yields, in part because of the cold weather, but also because of water shortages.
“I think the per-acre yields will be off from last year on an average of 10%,” Johnson said.
Still, some growers say they will begin harvesting on schedule.
“We are anticipating yields on average with seasons past, and we are on schedule to begin production on June 3, which is very much on track with our normal start up time. Sizing should be in line with where we need it to be,” Corey Griswold, president of ProSource Inc., said in late May. ProSource is the sales office for Rincon, N.M.-based Lack Farms.
Sizing could also be a challenge this year, at least at first.
“We’re on schedule, and the weather has been fairly cooperative. It is a little cooler than normal, so we may not see a lot of size on the front end of the deal, but we’ll move into bigger product once we get going,” said Chris Franzoy, owner of Young Guns Produce Inc., Hatch, N.M.
Gillis agrees sizing could be an issue.
“We had a cold spell that came through in February, and even now it’s still cool, so at this point we’re not sure if the onions will size up or not,” he said.
Growers expect demand to be steady for the deal this year.
“The market should be decent, but it’s not going to be phenomenal,” said Brandon Barker, vice president of Las Cruces-based onion grower-shipper Barker Produce Inc.
“We’re hoping it gets really good in July toward the end of the deal, but you can’t really tell ahead of time,” Barker said.