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Snake River Produce onions looking good despite late start to season

The weather has been a wild ride for onion growers in Idaho-Eastern Oregon’s Treasure Valley. But as Kay Riley, general manager of Snake River Produce Co. in Nyssa, OR, noted, the onions are playing catch-up.

“We had a very wet, rainy spring,” he told The Produce News on Sept. 8. “The onions were planted 30 days from normal. But the weather in July and August was good. The crop is kind of making it up.”

In early September, Snake River was harvesting product for packing. Mr. Riley expected the harvest for storage onions would begin around mid-September.

Production acreage is located within a 25-mile radius of Nyssa. Snake River Produce owns four storage facilities at its four-acre location and leases two facilities in Ontario, OR. Three of the company’s partners have storage facilities at their farms. Onions are packed at the main facility and another shed located north of Nyssa. In all, the partners account for 75 percent of all onions produced.

Although he expects overall volume will be down slightly from last season, Mr. Riley said that he anticipates good product quality and sizing this season. Snake River markets onions to domestic foodservice customers, and retail activity has grown. “We’re doing considerably more consumer packs than before,” he stated. In addition to sales through North America, Snake River Produce sells onions to customers in Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Australia.

The company will introduce its latest offering, the Snake River Sweet onion, to customers this year. There are currently 200 acres in production for this globe-shaped variety. “The pungency testing so far looks really good,” he stated. “It’s a good-sized onion. We’re going to feel our way into it.”

The sweet onion will be available in 40-pound cartons.