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Storm damage to Idaho-Eastern Oregon onions expected to be minimal

by Lora Abcarian | August 10, 2010
Overall damage associated with a storm cell that tore its way through the western Treasure Valley Aug. 6 is expected to be minimal for the region's onion growers.

"Time will tell whether it injured [our] crop," said Tiffany Cruickshank, transportation manager/sales and marketing associate for Snake River Produce Co. in Nyssa, OR.

Grant Kitamura, managing member of Murakami Produce Co. in Ontario, OR, who was out inspecting fields on Aug. 9 and Aug. 10, said, “There was very little damage to bulbs.”

The fast-traveling storm moved through portions of Malheur and Payette counties in haphazard fashion, dropping large amounts of water and hail on some fields while sparing others.

Mr. Kitamura and his field staff said that 5 percent of the area was hit in varying degrees by the storm. Crops such as corn and beets sustained considerable leaf damage. But he said that onion bulbs were fairly well formed by the time the cell struck, and he expects the bulbs weathered the storm.

Murakami Produce is set to begin its onion harvest the week of Aug. 16 along normal timetables. “I think we will be OK,” he said.

Ms. Cruickshank said that some of Snake River Produce’s acreage was directly in the path of the storm. “Some fields were hit,” she stated. “[But] the tops were already dropping. That’s typical for this time of year.”

Snake River Produce is expecting to begin its harvest on Aug. 25, a slight delay from normal schedules.

The storm broke a rainfall record set in 1956. On Aug. 10, weather forecasters continued to call for rain.