Northwest onions look strong despite heat

08/02/2013 01:27:00 PM
Coral Beach

Onion harvest at Utah Onions Inc.Courtesy Utah Onions Inc.Utah Onions Inc., Syracuse, began shipping onions from Washington growers on July 19, says Shawn Hartley, vice president. Some fields in the Pacific Northwest are showing signs of excessive heat but for the most part the crop looks good, Hartley says.Many growers in Washington and parts of Oregon expect onion harvest to begin Aug. 1, but at least one company started shipping small volumes in mid-July.

Shawn Hartley, vice president of Utah Onions Inc., said the company started shipping onions from Washington state growers on July 19. He said some fields in the Pacific Northwest are showing signs of stress because of excessive heat earlier in the summer, but overall the crop is looking good.

Richard Pazderski, director of business development for Utah Onions, Syracuse, Utah, said the company began shipping its first reds and yellows of the 2013 season by Aug. 1. Hartley and Pazderski said a market price hasn’t been established yet.

“Today we’re shipping jumbos and mediums for about $9,” Pazderski said July 22. “But we don’t know how the season is going to shape up yet.

Pazderski said Utah Onions is continuing to work on defining its brand, which foodservice customers and brokers have come to know for its quality and consistency. He and Hartley said the company is particularly working with retailers to strengthen brand recognition.

Hartley said the company’s Columbia River Sweets have tolerated the hot weather, with promotable supplies anticipated for fresh and storage this year.

In Nyssa, Ore., Kay Riley said the onion growing fields for Snake River Produce also are showing a little stress from near-record high temperatures. He said some growers in the Treasure Valley have seen some Irish yellow spot virus as a result, but it is not causing big problems.

Riley, who is a former president of the National Onion Association in addition to being general manager for Snake River Produce, said he expects to begin shipping around Aug. 20.

“The crop is looking good,” Riley said July 22, “but the weather is still a factor, and we will be watching it for the rest of the season.

“The current market is quite a bit lower than last year, but it’s really too early to tell where we will be.”

Jason Walker, vice president of sales and marketing for Bybee Produce, Prosser, Wash., has a similar take on the 2013 season.

“We’ve got good stands, and the onions are really starting to size up,” he said July 19.

Walker said Bybee’s red, yellow, white and organic onion crops are anticipated to produce good volumes this year. However, if abnormally high temperatures continue supplies could be affected.



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