Supplies of medium and large Mexican green onions could remain tight into spring.

Oxnard, Calif.-based Boskovich Farms Inc. expects to ship from the Mexicali and San Luis regions of Mexico before switching to coastal Mexico in mid-May, said Don Hobson, vice president of sales.

Barring unforeseen weather, Hobson expects an on-time transition. And prices will likely stay high until warmer weather brings on higher yields, probably in March.

"The market"s really good now," he said Feb. 23. "It"s $13.95 today, which is pretty good for this time of year. Usually it"s $9-10. It would be great if it stayed high, but it will probably ease off."

On Feb. 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $11.55-13.35 for cartons of medium bunched 48s from Mexico, up from $6-7 last year at the same time.

One reason for the high prices is a dearth of medium-size green onions in the market. Boskovich Farms doesn"t harvest until it"s fields yield 70% mediums, regardless of market pressures, but some growers have been harvesting early to take advantage of high prices, Hobson said.

Price differences in some small and medium markets are as much as $6, Hobson said.

Markets began to climb in November, thanks in large part to a seed shortage, Hobson said. With many growers forced to use a lower-quality seed as a result, yields were lower.

Butch Corda, general manager of Salinas, Calif.-based grower-shipper Ippolito International LP, had heard of the seed problems but his growers hadn"t experienced them first-hand.
Instead, Corda said abnormally warm temperatures were causing green onions to grow tall but not thick, making it hard to find enough larger product.

"Mediums and larges are very tight, and I don"t know if we"ll see it change until after March. Demand is very good, and with Easter coming, we see it staying good if not improving."

Production will remain mainly in the Mexicali and San Luis regions, with some switching to the Mexican coast in June and July, Corda said.