Growing organic onions in south Texas is difficult and the deal represents just a fraction of the overall volume from the region.
“We have a little bit of organic acreage but we haven’t seen a big uptick in that,” said Dante Galeazzi, who serves as manager of the South Texas Onion Committee in addition to his role as president and CEO of the Texas International Produce Association.
“It’s a very sensitive crop, and it can definitely be a challenge down here,” he said, noting there are a just a handful of marketers.
“It can get so humid down here, you really have to watch and keeep an eye on those onions daily.”
Texas land devoted to organic onions in 2016 — the most recent year available — was only 24 acres. Seven Texas farms were farming organic onions in 2016, according the USDA, generating sales of about $128,000 on production of about 1,767 cwt.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s market news service reported organic onion shipments from south Texas in 2018 totaled about 9,200 50-pound units, according to the USDA.
Russ Holbrook, senior vice president for South Texas Organics, Mission, Texas, said his firm expects to have some volume of south Texas organic onions by mid- to late March and continue with volume through late April.
“Organic onions are a staple for us,” he said. “It is a crop we are committed to on an annual basis.”
Stands of organic onions looked very good in February. The company expects to offer organic onions in 40-pound carton bulk packs in addition to 3-pound bags.
“If the onions pack out large, we’re going to sell a lot more bulk,” he said.
With timing ahead of Vidalia, Holbrook expects good market demand for Texas organic onions this year.