New York State onions, potatoes thrive - The Packer

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.

Mike Riner, vegetable crop manager for CY Farms LLC, Elba, N.Y., said July 7 that the onion crop needed drier soil to grow more quickly. The crop was behind schedule.

“Onions do not like wet feet,” he said.

Late April brought sustained winds of about 50 miles an hour to CY’s crops. The high winds damaged about a third of its 100 acres of onions. The company direct-seeded its red and yellow onions.

“We’re planting a little seed a quarter-inch in the ground and the soil moves very easily,” Riner said. “The wind cut off the 2-inch plants like a knife.”

CY chose not to replant those 35 acres. It is expected to begin harvesting onions about the second week of September.

Torrey Farms Inc., Elba, expects to start harvesting red and yellow onions in late July or early August, said Shannon Torrey, saleswoman. Torrey Farms ships onions through May. It begins selling the new harvest in late August to early September.

Torrey Farms’ about 560 acres of round white and Yukon gold potatoes were seeded in early May and should be ready for harvest in late September, Torrey said. The crop looked good as of July 10.

On July 10, 50-pound sacks of size A yellow-type Yukon gold potatoes from the Eastern shore of Virginia were priced at $18, the USDA reported. Demand was moderate and the market was steady.

The USDA reported the same quantity and type of potatoes from the Eastern shore were priced at $20 on July 10, 2008. Demand was good and the market was about steady.

Kubecka Farm, Kirkville, N.Y., grows Yukon golds. Because potatoes prefer cool and damp weather, the quality looked good as of July 7, said owner Lindy Kubecka. The 40 acres of potatoes were seeded May 10 and are expected to be harvested beginning in early October.

Jackson Farms Inc., Savannah, N.Y., which last year had about 450 acres of potatoes, is no longer growing them, said Trevor Jackson, salesman. He said multiple factors, including labor issues, influenced his decision.



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