Strong onion markets lead up to VidaliaGrower-shippers expect strong onion markets in the weeks leading up to the Vidalia harvest.

An early end to the Mexican sweet onion deal should be good news for Texas shippers, said Don Ed Holmes, president of The Onion House, Weslaco, Texas.

Acreage and yields are down south of the border this season, and with the crop coming on faster because of warm weather, it should mean a quicker end and strong markets for Texas, which should begin shipping the week of March 18, Holmes said.

“The Texas crop should be worth pretty good money,” he said.

On March 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $14 for 50-pound cartons of jumbo granos from Mexico, up from $6 last year at the same time.

Too many early-season Texas onions are being marketed aggressively, despite shortages, said Barry Rogers, president of Sweet Onion Trading Corp., Melbourne, Fla.

Onions are being sold before programs can even get up and running, Rogers said.

“Supplies have been a little choppy. It’s a really fragmented market. And I don’t see it changing until the second week of April.”

While availability from Mexico in Texas in March might be off industrywide, Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga., should have steady volumes throughout the month from the two regions, said Mark Shuman, general manager.

“We’ll be in a very promotable position for the next 30 days,” Shuman said March 12. “We have good supplies on all sizes, and the quality is very nice.”

Shuman expects markets to be stable in the runup to Vidalia, which should begin shipping in mid-April.

Troy Bland, director of procurement and quality control for Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms LLC, looks forward to the beginning of the Vidalia season in mid-April.

“It’s been a difficult year to source onions,” Bland said. “We’re excited to get into our own crop. We’re very optimistic that Vidalia will be much better than last year in quality and yields.”

Quality is excellent on Mexican granexes in the first half of March, Rogers said. Markets are holding steady and should stay that way for several weeks.

Mexican flat onions should ship in volume until the first week of April, then taper off, he said.

Because of small sizes, Mexican jumbo prices are trending up, with mediums down, Holmes said.

That also should play nicely into Texas’ hands.

“The sizing in Texas looks better than we thought,” he said. “The weather’s been fantastic. There will be more jumbos.”

Texas sweet onions should peak around mid-April and ship through early May, Holmes said.

Early Vidalia onions should start shipping about April 8, with promotable volumes expected by about April 22, Rogers said. Vidalia volumes are expected to be normal, he said.