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Texas onion crop looks bright for 2018

EDINBURG, TX — The Texas onion crop “looks good,” according to Don Ed Holmes, the owner of The Onion House LLC, based in Weslaco, TX. The crop is smaller than a year ago, he added.

“We will harvest in the last week of March and ship in the first week of April,” he said March 3. “We will ship until the second or third week of May.”

Jimmy Bassetti, president of J&D Produce Inc. in Edinburg, TX, said his Texas onion crop “looks healthy. The stands look great! We look forward to a good (Texas) onion season.”

J&D was very much already in onions when The Produce News stopped by J&D in early February. J&D was finishing Peruvian onions and moving into Mexico, shipping its proprietary HoneySweets from Mexico in mid- to late February. “In Mexico, like everyone else, we’ve had great weather, good quality, good yields and good markets.”

Bret Erickson, general manager of J&D said, “Our only concern is if Mexico collides with Texas.”

Holmes said western onion shippers thought their crop was short, so shipment volume was conservative in December and January. As of early March, western onions lingered in the national pipeline when normally “they should be out of the way. But there was an overlap with Mexico.”

As a result, for Holmes, a Mexico onion importer and distributor, “the market is off two or three dollars from a month ago. This should have been an opportunity” to feed a hungry market. But that’s what keeps it interesting. Just when you thought you’d seen it all.”

The Texas onion deal falls Mexico’s primary onion deal. But in mid-May, onion growers in Chihuahua, Mexico, will begin an onion deal that will run until July 1.

“July is our vacation and we will start shipping from Colorado in mid-August,” Holmes added. The Onion House shipped storage onions from Colorado until mid-February.

Holmes said south Texas onion fields warmed up in the last full week of February and early March. This will boost limited Texas onion harvest in mid-March. But by April 1 “most of the fields will be ready” for harvest.

Holmes said The Onion House is one of south Texas’ largest Mexican onion distributors. Mexico began shipping a low onion volume in January. Volume increased in February and now will be shipping until April 10.

Through the winter, each week other receivers import 40 to 50 loads of Peruvian onions. That will be winding down in mid-March.

“We have no Peru onions,” Holmes said of his firm, adding, “The Georgia boys really rode hard on them,” meaning Peru.

Holmes has been in the onion business for 42 years. “I remember the excitement of a new crop” of onions. With the growth of global sourcing, there is no longer the gap that once came between domestic growing areas.

But there is still some buyer excitement on new onions, Holmes said. As Mexico increases its production, buyers still buy Peruvian onions, but through the middle part of March the buyers will be preferring Mexican product, he said.

And then Texas onions will be in demand. Texas onions are harvested in delivered to customers within a week. Shipped by sea, Peru onions are on the water for a couple of weeks before entering the North American marketplace. So, Holmes emphasized, Texas “onions are fresher and have a better appearance."