Onion prices continue to fall from stratospheric levels, but grower-shippers say they could start heading up again.

“It’s cooled off a little bit,” Don Ed Holmes, owner of Weslaco, Texas-based The Onion House, said May 4.

Ten days of rain in the middle of the South Texas season meant growers had to ship four weeks’ worth of volume in three weeks later in the deal, Holmes said.

That pushed prices down. But as growers wind down their southern deals in the first two weeks of May, they may not stay down for long, he said.

“We expect it to stabilize and possibly strengthen as the south finishes and we go into Winter Garden,” Holmes said.

Michael Hively, chief financial officer and general manager of Bland Farms LLC, Glennville, Ga., agreed that prices could head back up soon.

“There will definitely be limited supplies out there until mid-June,” Hively said May 4. “Over the next 7 to 10 days they may soften a little more, but then they could turn again.”

On May 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $28-30 for 40-pound cartons of jumbo Vidalias from Georgia, up from $14-16 last year at the same time.

The $20-22 price Holmes quoted May 4 was close to the bottom of the current cycle, he said. And with just 3,000 acres, compared to 10,000 acres in the Rio Grande Valley, the Winter Garden deal, set to begin in earnest the second half of May, will not likely exert any downward pressure on prices, Holmes said.

Hively reported excellent quality and a good mix of sizes on product shipping the week of May 3. Bland Farms was shipping about 60% jumbos, 15% colossals and the balance mediums. 

Looking ahead, while quality should stay good, sizes will get smaller as the Vidalia deal progresses, he said.