Owyhee upgrades boost onion capacityWith a new onion top tail machine in place, owners of Owyhee Produce of Nyssa, Ore., say they have one of the most automated onion packing lines in the nation.

The family-owned company, founded in 1952 by Owen Froerer, has grown into a grower-shipper operation with several thousand acres and a 120,000-square-foot packing and storage facility.

As production grew, general manager Shay Myers realized that the Owyhee onion line was not running at full capacity, which he estimated should be 1,200 bags per hour.

"We were only yielding 800 per hour because of a design flaw in the existing top tail equipment," said Myers, who is the grandson of the Owyhee founder "Honest Owen."

A Web search led Myers to the South Georgia Equipment &amp Supply in Lyons, Ga. When South Georgia Equipment &amp Supply recommended a Nicholson Top Tail machine Myers agreed to give it a try.

Owyhee upgrades boost onion capacityThe packing line immediately hit top output of 1,200 bags an hour of Owyhee"s signature brands of Dam Good Onions, Dam Pretty Onions, Dam White Onions and Dam Big Onions all feature artwork of the Owyhee Dam on the Owyhee River near the company"s headquarters in Nyssa.

Owyhee Produce also ships onions under the Chuckar Ridge, Uplander, Second to None and Froerer Family Farms brands. In addition to white, red and yellow onions of all sizes, Owyhee Produce ships fresh asparagus in season in 11-pound and 28-pound pyramid boxes.

Robin Froerer, office manager and the second generation of the family business, said Owyhee does all of its own marketing and distribution. Owyhee ships to terminal markets and directly to retailers including Walmart, Winn-Dixie and Albertsons. The Owyhee onions are available in 3-,5-,10-, 25- and 50-pound sacks and 25- or 50-pound cartons.

As Owyhee modernized operations to meet demand, dust became an increasing problem. Electronic equipment was suffering and down time was disrupting production schedules. So, when South Georgia Equipment &amp Supply was able to provide such a functional solution to Owyhee"s onion top tail issue, Myers returned to the Georgia company for help with the dust.

The solution was a Jongejans Dust Extraction System. Myers said South Georgia Equipment &amp Supply oversight during the decision making and installation process made all the difference.

"Their plan helped prepare us for the new equipment to address exactly what we needed." Myers said. "They do what they say they"re going to do and fully support us technically."