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Ontario Produce expecting fewer storage onions

Summer heat is expected to cause some reduction in onion sizing for Ontario Produce, headquartered in Ontario, OR. Sales Manager Bob Komoto said weather presented its own set of challenges during 2012. “Early in the season after planting, there was hail and wind that thinned several fields and force some replanting,” he told The Produce News on Sept. 4. “The early part of summer was ideal. But in the latter part of July and early August we had seven to 10 days of over 100-degree weather. That aged the crop and probably will cause some size reductions.”

Ontario Produce is a whollyOntarioProduceForeman Arturo Rodriguez (Photo courtesy of Ontario Produce)-owned subsidiary of Rio Queen Inc. in Mission, TX. Ontario Produce works with a network of approximately 28 regional onion growers. Production acreage is down roughly 2,000 acres this season.

“There should be fewer onions than last year,” Mr. Komoto stated. “Since our area started several weeks earlier than last year, there will probably be fewer loads going into storage because more onions will have been shipped. Quality has a chance to be very good. But sizing could have less colossals and supers.”

The harvest began in early August, and Mr. Komoto expects activity will wrap up by mid- October or sooner “depending on the weather.”

Ontario Produce will market some sweet varieties through December. “Then [we will market] the usual long day varieties such as Vaquero and Granero for yellow onions all season,” he went on to say.

Fifty percent of the onions are sold to foodservice customers. The balance is evenly distributed between wholesale and retail customers. Labels under which onions are sold are “Rio Sweet,” “Wowie,” “E & S,” “Golden Bird,” “Real West,” “NK” and the “A BRAND.”

“We do 50-pound, 40-pound, 25-pound and 10-pound cartons, 50-pound, 25-pound and 10-pound sacks,” Mr. Komoto stated, adding that PLU stickers are available for cartons and sacks.

A variety of consumer sizes and bins are also available.

On the food-safety front, Mr. Komoto said the company is Primus Global Food Safety third-party audited. “We have been doing third-party food-safety audits for the last 14 years,” he noted. “We also have had a testing program with Certified Onions Inc. for the last three years where we have had all our onions tested for pesticide residues. For the last two years, we have had all of our onions tested for microbiological pathogens.”