Walla Walla growers expect solid year

06/14/2013 12:19:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

Courtesy Curry & Co.Curry & Co. expects to harvest its Walla Walla onions beginning the third week of June and going through the end of August, according to a company spokesman. Grower-shippers expect a solid, normal season for Walla Walla sweet onions.

“Good growing weather has brought on a good crop for this season,” said Dan Borer, general manager for Keystone Fruit Marketing, Walla Walla, Wash.

“The quality looks very good at this point,” Borer said.

Curry & Co., also expects a good season.

The Brooks, Ore.-based company expects to harvest Walla Wallas from the third week of June through the end of August, according to a company spokesman.

Harry Hamada, manager of Walla Walla River Packing and Storage LLC, agrees.

“It looks better than it has in years past, since the last couple years have been a lot cooler, and we had a week with 90-degree temperatures this year,” Hamada said.

Sizing and timing also should be fairly normal.

“I think we’ll have good size. The heat a few weeks ago brought it on pretty good, and now with the cool weather and showers, we’ve slowed down to be on time,” said Ben Cavalli, owner of Cavalli’s Onion Acres, Walla Walla.

“The crop looks really good, and the early stuff is sizing up since the weather has been good for the most part,” Hamada said, adding that he expected to begin harvesting around June 15.

“That’s a little earlier than the last couple years,” he said, though it’s not too far off from the average harvest, which is usually around Father’s Day.

Acreage for the year is also about normal, said Kathy Fry-Trommald, executive director of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee.

“We’re still hovering right around 1,000 acres,” she said.

This sweet onion crop, which is often compared with the Vidalia sweet onions, is a much smaller deal, but Fry-Trommald said that isn’t an issue.

“We are really small compared to the Vidalia industry, but we seem to hold our own,” she said.

In addition, Fry-Trommald said Walla Walla sweets are completely unique from Vidalia onions, and while some people like both varieties, others have sworn allegiance to their preferred onion.

“I have friends who are staunch Vidalia lovers who won’t change their mind, but Walla Walla fans are just as sure that these are the best,” Fry-Trommald said.

The Walla Walla supporters tend to be grouped in the northwest area of the country, though there are others spread around the nation.

“Once people get into Walla Walla sweet onions, they become staunch advocates and will call from North Carolina to order 20 pounds,” Fry-Trommald said.

With the positive projections, growers and shippers are looking forward to a good season.

“Expectations are high and we’re anxious to get started. We’re looking forward to a big crop,” Borer said.



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