Shippers say they expect high quality and good supply of Peruvian onions through the end of February. ( Courtesy RogersAgro Inc. )

The first Peruvian sweet onions had already reached the U.S. by mid-August, and plenty of supplies are forecast as the deal heats up in September and beyond, marketers say.

One reason is the climate in which the onions grow, they note.

“The weather is absolutely perfect for growing onions,” said Delbert Bland, president of Glennville, Ga.-based Vidalia sweet onion grower-shipper Bland Farms LLC, which grows its own sweet onions in Peru.

Peru’s onions flourish in desert conditions, which differ from the rain and humidity of the Vidalia district, Bland said.
“In Vidalia, we’d get 55 inches of rain a year and, in Peru, we’d have zero,” he said.

The dry conditions allow for more control through drip irrigation and fewer pests, Bland noted.

“We’ve received a good many containers already, and they’re beautiful,” he said. “We’re excited about this crop because the quality is superb. That’s typical — the Peruvian crop is usually always very good quality.”

Bland visited Peru in mid-August to get a firsthand look at the crop, he said.

Walt Dasher, co-owner of Glennville-based G&R Farms, visited his fields in Peru in July and noted that “everything appeared to look normal, and sizing was very consistent with high percentage of jumbos and colossals, like a normal Peru season should be.”

No disease issues were apparent with any of the plants, Dasher said.

The only possible concern by mid-August was a spate of cooler weather, which “slowed down growth some,” Dasher said.

“But at the moment, we hope things will get back to normal with the weather/temps and sizing continues to grow off and size up like we need the onions to do,” he said.

Dasher said he was confident that would occur and that it would be a successful deal.

“I am very positive about the market conditions at the moment, and everything we are hearing and seeing so far appear to be right in line with current Vidalia pricing, which is what we felt like would and should happen with the Peru market,” he said.

 Volume could be “a little tight” on the front end of the deal, which generally runs from September through late February, said John Williams, sales director with the Peruvian deal for Lyons, Ga.-based Vidalia grower-shipper L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms Inc.

That’s normal, though, he said.

“But we should be getting into good volume as we move into September,” he said. 

The Vidalia deal was wrapping up at the end of August, which should set up “a good transition” to the Peruvian deal, Williams noted.
Greencastle, Pa.-based Keystone Fruit Marketing Co. reported “normal” expectations for the Peruvian sweet onion crop.

“No issues,” said Mike Blume, director of sales and marketing. “It’s a normal-sized crop. We’ve already started receiving some product into the U.S. and selling. Quality has been outstanding. Demand is very strong, so it’s been a good start. It will go to usually the end of February.”