Texas onion buyers should see a traditional mid- to late March start to the season after a typical winter with some cold and rain.
Last year’s mild winter led to an early March start.
“For our producers and for the area in whole, it looks like we’ll have a slightly later start to volume than normal,” said David DeBerry, president of McAllen, Texas-based Southwest Onion Growers LLC.
“Maybe a week or 10 days later. The onion acreage all across the area looks to be very healthy as of early February.”
Don Ed Holmes, owner of The Onion House, Weslaco, Texas, said rain during the onion planting window got the season off to a slow start.
“It’s just not been good onion-growing weather,” he said in mid-February. “We’ve had a cold winter with very few warm, sunny days.”
Holmes said he didn’t expect strong volume until early April.
Jimmy Bassetti, president of J&D Produce, Edinburg, Texas, also said it has been a more traditional winter.
“Quality at this juncture is very good,” he said in mid-February. “If quality maintains through harvest, we should see a good market. Acreage looks the same in comparison to last season.”
Dante Galeazzi, president of the Mission-based Texas International Produce Association and manager of the South Texas Onion Committee marketing order, said the winter was colder than last season, but a benefit will be that it kept many of the insect pests in check.
The later start has some grower-shippers optimistic for a longer season.
“It sure is shaping up like a deal where we will start, on average, a little later and stretch the season out a little later,” DeBerry said. “That should make for a smoother marketing plan. Time will tell.”
Galeazzi said he’s seen growers trying to get ahead of the normal Texas sweet onion start with new varieties and then extend the crop at the end of the season with other varieties.
He said overall Texas onion acreage should be steady this year at about 7,000 acres, and the season should run into late May to early June in the Rio Grande area, July in the Winter Garden area, and as late as early September for some in West Texas.
Holmes said the Mexican onion season is progressing normally and on track to finish sometime in April, so there should be little overlap with Texas.
In mid-February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $14 for 40-pound cartons of jumbo yellow onions from Mexico, $12 for 50-pound sacks of jumbos and $9 for mediums.