(Aug. 1) Despite last winter’s run of historic prices, storage onion acreage for 2007 is virtually unchanged from the year before, according to the Greeley, Colo.-based National Onion Association.

An estimated 82,407 storage acres will be harvested this year, about half-a-percent less than the year before, said Wayne Mininger, the association’s executive vice president. The NOA arrived at that amount at the association’s annual summer meeting, July 18-21 in Fresno, Calif.

A more detailed breakdown of 2007 production will be released in August, Mininger said.

Considering the bull markets the onion industry has enjoyed for much of 2007, it’s a surprise acreage isn’t up, said Joe Coelho, a partner in Terra Linda Farms, Riverdale, Calif., and a host of the association’s summer meeting. Doug Stanley, general manager of Harris Fresh LLC, Huron, Calif., was the other grower host.

“Based on the profitability of onions throughout the winter, I would have thought it would be higher,” Coelho said. “Growers tend to chase after those high prices.”

It could be some of the front-burner industry issues discussed at the association meeting dissuaded some growers from getting too zealous with their plantings.

Mininger reported that growers were deeply worried, for instance, about the labor situation.

“It’s safe to say our industry in general is disappointed that Congress couldn’t get something passed on immigration,” he said. “We’re wondering where our workers are going to come from.”

Mininger didn’t hold out much hope for Congress doing anything on immigration until at least after the 2008 presidential elections.

He — and many growers — also have doubts about Congress’s allocating money in the farm bill for specialty crops, as passed by the House of Representatives in July. The association belongs to a coalition of specialty crop groups pushing for a $1.7 billion chunk of the farm bill.