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Sizes smaller but quality great, Fort Boise’s Joe Farmer says

With a late start date of Sept. 6 for Treasure Valley onions, Joe Farmer, director of operations for Fort Boise Produce, said on Sept. 19 that the 2011 crop will be “a little on the smaller size with more mediums than normal.”

First onions coming in to the Parma, ID, facility were showing smaller size profiles across the variety board, although Mr. Farmer said that onions still in the fields will continue to size up a little.

“Everything is a little smaller due to the wet spring,” he said. “We see a good-quality storage crop coming in, but the onions are just not quite as big.”

Aside from the late start, which was about four days later than last year’s and about three weeks later than what growers consider “normal,” the season has progressed well, he said. Volume will be similar to last year’s, Mr. Farmer added, and the sizes will fall into mediums and jumbos, with fewer colossals and super colossals.

Yellow Spanish Sweets make up the bulk of the crop, with smaller volumes of whites and reds. Sales Manager Ashley Robertson concurred, noting that a large percentage of the total volume will go more to retail and repackers.

“That’s a trend we’ve been following for the past couple of years,” she said, adding that the smaller size profile fits well in retail markets.

Working with Ms. Robertson on sales is Ryan Stewart, who joined Fort Boise on Sept. 7.

The company offers retail packs of two-, three-, five- and 10-pound drawstring mesh bags, which were introduced in 2010. Designed for high-end retail, the bags will feature the “Pink Ribbon” brand during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Family owned and operated, the Fort Boise facility is Primus-certified. In addition, all onions grown by the Farmer family farms are also certified by Certified Onions Inc. Growers are GAP-compliant, and all product can be tracked to its origin by TraceProduce. Also, Fort Boise Produce utilizes video inspections, which allow internal inspectors or warehouse managers to take videos of product samples in real time.

Along with the “Pink Ribbon” brand, Fort Boise also ships under “Fort Boise,” “Giant Sweet,” “Gold N Sweet,” “Ida Gold,” “Golden Pride” and “Western Idaho” labels.