( Courtesy Gills Onions )

California onion grower-shippers are looking forward to a strong season this summer with plenty of good-quality onions available.

Oxnard, Calif.-based Gills Onions LLC was wrapping up its Brawley, Calif., program in mid-May and preparing to transition to the Bakersfield area, where the company will harvest until the end of August, said Megan Jacobsen, vice president of sales and marketing.

In September, the harvest will move to the King City area, where the company picks storage onions that should be available until March or April.

Gills Onions provides a number of fresh-cut offerings for foodservice that are made from proprietary red and yellow onion varieties, Jacobson said.

“We look for the characteristics that provide the highest quality,” she said.

Although picking in Brawley started a week later than usual, the start date in Bakersfield appeared to be “right on target,” she said.

“We’re looking forward to a good season there,” she said, with “fantastic” size and quality.

Volume at Gills Onions should be up this season compared to last thanks to some new packinghouse packing equipment, Jacobsen said.

Five Points, Calif.-based Telesis Onion Co. will harvest red, white, yellow and sweet onions until the end of August, said salesman Mike Smythe.

Growers were reporting good quality with volume similar to last year, he said.

The company has experienced an increase in box business for supermarkets and foodservice accounts, he said, and also offers stickered onions for grocery chains.

Consumer options include 2-, 3-, 5- and 10-pound bags.

Smythe said he expected higher onion prices this year because fewer onions carried over from the Brawley area.

Yerington, Nev.-based Peri & Sons Farms was winding down its Imperial Valley onion deal in California in late May and was preparing to transition northward to the San Joaquin Valley, said Cindy Elrod, sales and new business development specialist.

The company will grow and pack mostly yellow and sweet onions in the San Joaquin Valley but also will offer some white and red varieties from that region, she said.

Volume and business ramp up when the deal transitions to Central California, she added.
Peri & Sons packs conventional and organic onions year-round, Elrod said.

When packing in the San Joaquin Valley tapers off in late August, the harvest will transition to the company’s Yerington headquarters.

Volume this year should be similar to last year’s, she said.

Fullerton, Calif.-based JBJ Distributing Inc./Veg-Land Inc. will start shipping white, yellow and red onions from its grower in Hollister, Calif., in July and continue from that location through October, said Dominic Etcheberria, general manager.

The company handles organic onions exclusively.

It was too early to determine what the quality would be like, he said in May. But he was optimistic.
“We’ve got a good stand,” he said. “We’re expecting to have a good year.”

The ranch in Hollister has been growing onions for several years, he added.

“We expect to have good supplies of jumbos on all three varieties.”

The company packs mainly 40-pound boxes, 50-pound bags of smaller sizes and 3-pound consumer bags, but JBJ can pack any size a customer needs, he said.

JBJ was sourcing onions from Mexico during the winter and spring, and planned to transition to Arvin, Calif., before launching its Hollister deal.

Rain set back planting of long-day onions by about 10 days in California, Peri & Sons’ Elrod said. But it was too early to tell if the delay will affect the upcoming onion program.

“We’ll see how that plays out during the season,” she said.

A good growing season could make up for the time that was lost because of the planting delay, she said.

The good news is that growers will have adequate water this year.

“We’re excited about that,” she said.