The organic onion harvest is under way, though some fields are behind schedule this year.
“We have promotable volume, but the Northwest is not there yet,” said Jessica Peri of Peri & Sons, speaking of the company’s production at its Yerington, NV headquarters. “In the next two weeks, we will see a lot more volume from the Northwest. They seem to be lagging behind a bit.”
Jessica Peri, Peri & Sons
Peri said it was a challenging spring weather wise in almost all the onion growing regions, causing some replanting and putting most fields 7–10 days behind the budgeted schedule. Until all the onions are out of the ground and in storage, the size of the crop won’t be known for sure. But Peri noted that "yields are off a bit.”
Peri & Sons red onions
The marketing situation reflects this. On September 6, Peri said cartons of organic yellow onions were ranging from the high $20s to the low $30s, while organic red and white onions were trading in the high $30s.
“We have promotable volume, but the Northwest is not there yet. In the next two weeks, we will see a lot more volume from the Northwest. They seem to be lagging behind a bit.” – Jessica Peri
Troy Bland of Bland Farms in Glenville, GA, told OPN Connect that his company is still in the early stage of its organic sweet onion program from Peru. “We will have organic onions from Peru through the end of the year,” he said, noting that the company will then transition to organic onions from Mexico, which will take it to its signature Vidalia onion deal next spring. “We have an organic onion program 52 weeks of the year,” he said.
Troy Bland, Bland Farms
Bland is not as bullish about promotable pricing on either organic or conventional onions over the next several months. “I expect the organic onion deal to follow the same pattern as the conventional onions,” he said. “We have a lot of costs tied up in our onions, including the high cost of ocean transportation. Those are flat set costs for us, so I don’t see the market dropping.”
“We have a lot of costs tied up in our onions, including the high cost of ocean transportation. Those are flat set costs for us, so I don’t see the market dropping.” – Troy Bland
In addition, Bland said reports from the Northwest point to a smaller crop, which again indicates increasing pressure on the demand side of the equation. On September 7, Bland said organic sweet onions from Peru were selling in the low to mid-$30s. He acknowledged that there could be some lower-priced domestic organic onions available but not in volumes large enough to change the Peru market.
Bland Farms organic vidalia onions
Onions 52, a full-line shipper based in Syracuse, UT, also weighed in on the start of the new onion crop. Director of Marketing Falon Brawley said the company began harvesting a full complement of its onions in Washington State and Utah in late August, with demand for new crop onions exceedingly high.
Falon Brawley, Director of Marketing, Onions 52
“We will begin storing onions in early September for our robust storage season," Brawley said. "Storage onions have a significantly lower water content than summer onions, making them easier to store in climate-controlled sheds from early fall until the following spring. It is not unlikely for September-harvested onions to ship to stores late into May and even early June.”
Tearless and sweet Sunions from Onions 52
Brawley added that Onions 52 will be shipping organic onions from the Northwest until May. “We will also have organic ‘tearless and sweet’ Sunions available late fall.”
“We will begin storing onions in early September for our robust storage season. Storage onions have a significantly lower water content than summer onions, making them easier to store in climate-controlled sheds from early fall until the following spring.” – Falon Brawley
She noted that demand for the proprietary organic Sunions has been increasing each year. “We have custom [point of sale] materials available for our retail partners to utilize during the holiday season,” Brawley added.
Onions from Onions 52
Sales representative Tiffany Cruickshank reported on the quality of the crop from Onions 52’s newly established Vale, Oregon office: “The crop looks variable due to a dry, cold, and windy spring coupled with multiple heat waves during the growing season. Some fields have certainly fared better than others. We are hopeful the growing conditions will allow the onions to put on a bit more size before harvest takes off.”