Supplies of onions from California are slimmer as the transition between growing regions gets underway this month. Gerry Valois of Western Onion says typically production begins in the Imperial Valley around April 20th and harvest lasts until the end of May, possibly a week into June. “What was unusual there was the weather had been cooler and that delays the harvesting and affects the size profile,” he says. “Everything was delayed by a couple of days to a few weeks. If there was a two-week delay in starting, they may catch up and take an extra four to five days to finish.”
The next region that moves into harvest will be the San Joaquin Valley and production starts in Bakersfield and moves up the valley from there. San Joaquin got ample rains earlier this year, which affected planting schedules.
Growing onion consumption
As for demand for onions, Valois notes it’s fairly static. However overall onion consumption has been growing over the years because of the demographics. As for pricing, it reflects the supplies meaning when they are tight, prices rise.
Looking ahead, the transition from the Imperial Valley to the San Joaquin Valley will take place throughout the next two to four weeks. “There are still many people packing and shipping in Imperial and that will probably go on for the next one to two weeks,” says Valois. “Some people are starting in San Joaquin in the next few weeks but I’m guessing by the end of June, San Joaquin will be the go-to place for product.”