New York potatoes, onions running on schedule - The Packer

New York potatoes, onions running on schedule

07/15/2010 09:17:50 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Onions and potatoes are among the two leading vegetables New York grower-shippers ship. Growers normally begin onion harvesting in early September, with the storage deal starting in December and running through May.

Potatoes begin packing in late summer and during the fall.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New York is the fourth largest summer storage onion-producing state, behind California, Washington and Oregon. The state produces on average 10,600 acres.


Andrew Gurda, owner of A. Gurda Produce Co. Inc., Pine Island, N.Y., said the growing season so far has been satisfactory.

“We are expecting this to be an average year,” he said in mid-June.

Gurda said onion prices in mid-June remained high but not as high as they were earlier in the year.

Gurda quoted onions selling for $20 for 50-pound sacks in mid-June. He said prices normally come down during the summer and by the time New York growers begin their volume.

Last season, prices on average were low, and then gradually moved to higher-than-normal f.o.b.s in January and February when they averaged $20-28.

“Last year, we had issues like everyone else, but overall it was a pretty decent season,” Gurda said.

In its first report last season in late August, the USDA reported these prices from western and central New York: yellow globe-type 50-pound sacks medium 2¼-inch minimum sold for $10-10.50; 2-inch minimum, $9; master container 16 3-pound mesh sacks 2¼-inch minimum sold for $12-12.50; and 2-inch minimum sold for $10.50-11.

Gurda plans to harvest 170,000 bags from its 170 acres, similar to last season, he said.

Other growers characterize the season as favorable.

“The crop is growing beautifully now,” Richard Pazderski, director of sales for Bland Farms Inc., Glennville, Ga., said in early July. “Everything was planted in a timely manner and we are looking for a good season up there.”

Pazderski said prices last season were depressed a little more than normal and that the deal represented a tough year for Bland to get started in the New York deal.

Bland grows and packs from 800 acres, similar to last season, in Cato, N.Y., north of Syracuse, N.Y.

Domestic producers brought a lot of product to the market, particularly in the Northeast, last season, he said, and Pazderski said Bland sold much of its crop on the fresh end early on in the deal.

Because it finished most of its New York crop by late December, Bland missed some of the higher markets that came during the following two months, Pazderski said.

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