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Walla Walla sweet onion growers on firm footing with 2013 crop

Favorable weather in Washington state has given Walla Walla sweet onion growers there a leg up during the 2013 production season. "So far, so good," said Mike Locati, chairman of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee. "Everything is in the ground, and everything is looking good."

Mr. Locati said there was a little freezing early in the production season, but it will not affect the coming crop. OpenerShot-webOnion growers in Washington's Walla Walla sweet onion growing district are looking to harvest a highly promotable crop this season. Plentiful supplies are expected to be available from mid-June to mid-August. (Photo courtesy of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee)With the caveat that weather to come is still unpredictable, Mr. Locati is pleased with the progress of the Walla Wallas.

"We've had a nice spring," he said. "We're looking at a normal harvest."

The number of producers has remained fairly constant in recent years. According to Mr. Locati, growers planted approximately 600 acres of the nationally recognized onion. "We're down slightly," he said of the acreage comparison to the 2012 season. The harvest will ramp up along typical timetables, beginning in mid-June and running through mid-August.

"The size profile should be good, too," he commented, adding that there were no pest pressures affecting the 2013 crop. "We're coming right along."

With freeze issues affecting Vidalia onion production in Georgia, Mr. Locati said that retailers and consumers could look to Walla Walla sweet onions to fill possible supply gaps. "If there are shortages, we could pick up some business," he noted.

The most recent figures on Washington's production of summer non-storage onions, which include Walla Walla sweets, were released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sept. 13, 2012. According to NASS, total harvested acreage for non-storage onions was 2,500 acres in 2012, up slightly from 2011. A total yield of 400 hundredweight per acre was indicated for 2012, with production indicated at 1,000 hundredweight for the year at the time of reporting.