Texas onion grower-shippers say they’re facing a normal complement of issues this year, but trucking doesn’t seem to be one of them.
Timing is one of the reasons, said Don Ed Holmes, owner of The Onion House LLC, a Weslaco, Texas-based grower-shipper.
“Peak season where, Texas peaks on onions and watermelons, (is) starting to get going; even with that many trucks, we do have some spotty shortages,” he said.
“It seemed to be really bad two years ago as these freight rates went up. I’m hoping we can keep rates up to keep enough trucks in circulation.”
What might help is a four-lane highway across Mexico, which opened a couple of years ago, Holmes said.
“They built that new four-lane highway across Mexico, and the tomatoes and peppers and whatnot are grown in Sinaloa,” he said.
“All that product had gone to Nogales to be shipped all over the nation, but they have finished that highway about three years ago, a four-lane highway all the way to McAllen. The Mexican shippers have figured it’s cheaper to go from Culiacan to McAllen, rather than Nogales.”
That has led to “a real influx” of product from Mexico, and many of those Mexican shippers have set up facilities in South Texas, Holmes said.
“All those people hire trucks,” he said.
The trade situation between the U.S. and Mexico has been “really good,” which also has helped ease concerns about trucks, Holmes said.
“Unlike California, which has basically stifled growth and business, there’s no reason from trucks to haul anything out there,” he said.
“You have fewer trucks in California, and it stands to reason rates are higher. But here, you have a lot of trucks hauling stuff, so we’ve had a good supply of trucks.”
Dennis Holbrook, president of Mission, Texas-based South Tex Organics LLC, said he expected to have ample transportation options available.
“I don’t anticipate trucking to be too much of a problem,” he said.
“There’s enough product being moved out, with citrus still being in production, that there will be adequate trucking.”