New York State onions, potatoes thrive

07/16/2009 05:59:35 PM
Susie Cable

Cool weather is good for onion and potato growing, so except for some excess moisture in places, the crops appear to be having a good season so far.

Andrew Gurda, owner of A. Gurda Produce Co. Inc., Pine Island, N.Y., said in early July that the onion crops needed to dry out. Gurda Produce should begin its onion harvest in early August. It grows red and yellow onions on about 85 acres.

Gurda also said the onion market was tight and he expected it to remain so for the next year. He said he hoped freight costs from the West would stay high enough that East Coast buyers would source from New York growers and that the market could bear prices high enough to generate profits.

On July 10, 50-pound sacks of jumbo yellow grano onions from California were priced at $18-20 at the New York terminal market, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported. Twenty-five-pound sacks of jumbo red globe-type onions from Nevada were priced at $11-12.

A year earlier, 50-pound sacks of jumbo yellow grano onions from California were priced at $12-13 at the New York market, the USDA reported. Twenty-five pound sacks of jumbo red globe-type onions from California were priced at $12-14.

Fulton, N.Y.-based New York Bold LLC’s onion planting went well this season, said Dave Santoro, manager and co-owner. Temperatures averaged eight to 10 degrees cooler than normal — highs on July 4 were in the 60s — but onions do well in cool weather and growth looked good, he said on July 6. New York Bold first sources onions from its 11 grower-owners, then considers other suppliers from within the state.

New York Bold markets red and yellow onions from about 2,500 acres. Crops were planted April 20 and harvest is expected to begin in late August to early September.

The first of about 1,000 acres of sweet onions being grown by Bland Farms New York LLC, Cato, N.Y., are expected to be ready for harvest beginning in late July or early August, said Michael Hively, chief financial officer and general manager for Bland Farms Inc., Glennville, Ga. Bland Farms New York was created in April when Bland Farms purchased Cato-based Zappala Farms’ assets for $4.1 million.

The red hybrid and yellow grano sweet onion varieties were transplanted in early April and the crops looked good as of July 6, Hively said.

“This is a very good growing season,” he said. “It’s been cooler than in past years, but what we’re seeing is quality onions.”

Harvest is expected to last through August, with storage onions being harvested beginning in September.


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