New Mexico onions should feature good quality and sizing this year, though shippers said acreage and yields are likely lower than last season.
Volume of New Mexico onions started in late May and will accelerate in early June, said Zach Adams, sales representative for Shiloh Produce Inc., Hatch, N.M.
Shippers said onion shipments will continue until August or early September. Yellow onions account for about 70% of New Mexico onion volume for most shippers, with reds and white accounting for the balance of the volume.
“We have a beautiful crop all around,” Adams said. “The early stuff on our yellows is going to be phenomenal.”
Despite cooler weather in the growing season, Adams predicted nearly all of the firm’s fields would yield above 50% jumbo-sized onions.
Noilyn Hogan, sales and marketing representative with ProSource Inc., Hailey, Idaho, said the majority of its growers’ onions are grown in the Hatch Valley.
Harvest began May 27 and quality looks very nice, she said.
“Sizing will be varied across onion lots this summer in New Mexico,” Hogan said. “We anticipate good, consistent volume of jumbo and medium sized-onions for the duration of the packing season.”
She said supercolossal and colossal onions in large volumes will be more volatile but will be steadily available for mixer loads.
Bill Coombs, sales representative for Desert Springs Produce, Arrey, N.M., said the firm’s acreage is similar to last year but speculated overall statewide acreage could be off slightly from a year ago.
Cold spring weather held back the crop compared with normal progress but volume should be running strong by June 10, he said.
Early sizing may be off slightly and the state may not feature as many colossal and supercolossal onions as some years.
Brandon Barker, owner of Barker Produce, Las Cruces, N.M., said the firm’s acreage is down about 100 acres and yields also are expected to be down compared to recent years.
Some early fields had heavy rain and didn’t get a great stand, he said.
“Overall we won’t have the big yields we have had the last two years, for sure,” he said.
Prices were running about twice the level of a year ago and firm market conditions are expected throughout the season, he said.
The firm is expected to ship onions through about Sept. 10.
Barker said there will be ample supply of jumbos, but the supply of colossal and supercolossal will be shorter than a year ago.
Hogan of ProSource said expectations are running strong for New Mexico
“I feel like this will be a more consistent and stronger onion market than we have experienced the past couple of seasons,” she said. “Right out of the gate in New Mexico trucks are more readily available, and we hope that will be the trend for the duration of the packing season.”
Over the past 25 years, onion acreage in New Mexico has ranged from a high of 9,195 acres in 1997 to low of 5,457 acres in 2012, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture.
In 2017, the census pegged New Mexico onion acreage at 6,915.
New Mexico harvested area of onions in 2018 totaled 6,500 acres, according to the USDA crop statistics.
That was off 8% from New Mexico’s harvested area of 2017 from 7,100 acres but up 7% from 6,100 acres in 2016.