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Curry: Harvest delayed for some onions, accelerated for others

Weather conditions in the Pacific Northwest were variable during the current onion production season. And Matt Curry, president of Curry & Co. in Brooks, OR, said start dates will be a mixed bag. “We have had some weather impacts with onions,” he told The Produce News. “The freeze in December in the Pacific Northwest did do some damage to crops, and delayed them as well. A combination of the freeze and cooler-than-usual spring weather delayed Walla Walla onions by as much as a week to 10 days. Our regular yellow, white and red onions we estimate could be early though, by as much as seven to 10 days depending on July’s weather, which is starting off quite hot with temps in the high 90s and some low 100s.”

The company is a year-round supplier of red, yellow and white onions and has a year-round sweet onion program in place to meets its customers’ needs. Sweet onions are also imported to keep supplies moving.

Curry3President Matt Curry is seen here inspecting a field of Vidalia sweet onions. (Photo courtesy of Curry & Co.)Curry expects a 10-15 percent increase in overall onion volume, primarily attributable to production on new acreage.

Looking at 2014 production, Curry said, “We are anticipating promotable volumes of the three main colors from the start of harvest. We are also anticipating a full range of sizes to be available and will peak on jumbos if current trends continue.”

Sweet onions continue to be favored by consumers. “Hermiston Sweets are a sweet onion that we start harvesting in late August and are available into December,” Curry commented. Marketing for Hermiston SweetReds will begin in late August and run through March and April of 2015.

The 2014 Vidalia sweet onion season has been a strong one for Curry & Co. “We will continue to have availability into August,” Curry stated. “The market started off with limited availability. But we quickly ramped up with heavy volumes and have been steadily shipping since late April. The overall demand for Vidalia onions has been strong nationwide, and we hope to finish our season strong.”

Curry closely monitors marketplace dynamics, and he said ever-changing demographics in the United States figure prominently in that analysis with core retail partners. “These changes can really affect your onion sales,” he observed. “In the same store banner, in the same city, you can have one store selling a higher volume of white onions, another store selling more red onions and the third store selling more yellow onions. We also remain focused on sweet onions and pushing their year round-availability. Consumers seem to really be gravitating to sweets, and they get a ton of attention in the foodie world of magazines and television.”