Company’s closure sends ripples through deal, cuts acreage

06/14/2013 02:08:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

Courtesy Keystone Fruit MarketingDespite last year’s closure of Walla Walla Gardeners and possibly reduced acreage, Keystone Fruit Marketing general manager Dan Borer says supplies of Walla Walla onions won’t be affected.With the closing of Walla Walla Gardeners last year, a few changes to the Walla Walla sweet onion deal will be seen this year.

Sweet Clover Produce, the sales office of Sweet Clover Distribution, has moved into the building previously owned by Walla Walla Gardeners, according to Kathy Fry-Trommald, executive director of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee.

The building was purchased at auction in April.

Sweet Clover Distribution began shipping onions from the new location May 1, with Walla Walla sweet onion harvest set to begin in the middle of June.

Bill Brownfield, sales manager for Sweet Clover Produce, did not respond to questions by press deadline.

Another effect of longtime co-op’s closing is slightly reduced acreage, according to Ben Cavalli, owner, Cavalli’s Onion Acres, Walla Walla.

“I don’t think we have as many acres this year as last year due to Walla Walla Gardeners closing its doors. Some of the growers were afraid to seed as they might not have a home for the crop,” Cavalli said.

Still, the well-known sweet onions will be available and the market is expected to be good.

Dan Borer, general manager, Keystone Fruit Marketing, says the loss of Walla Walla Gardeners won’t affect supplies.

“The onions are still in the ground, and they are going to get marketed. This won’t affect the availability of Walla Walla onions,” he said.

Walla Walla River Packing and Storage LLC, has slightly increased company acreage with the addition of a few growers who previously worked with Gardeners.

“We picked up a couple new growers to help them out after Walla Walla Gardeners went out of business,” manager Harry Hamada said.



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