(Aug. 4) Smaller summer onion crops have translated into good demand and strong markets, grower-shippers and industry officials said.

At the beginning of August, deals in New Mexico and California’s San Joaquin Valley were in full swing, late-summer deals in Colorado and Washington were beginning and significant volume from Georgia was still shipping, said Wayne Minninger, executive vice president of the National Onion Association, Greeley, Colo.

A combination of weather-related problems and lower acreages pushed supplies down in the summer deals, sending prices higher, Minninger said.

“Supplies are a bit on the short side, and prices are higher than normal,” he said. “Demand has been good.”

On Aug. 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $11-12 for 50-pound sacks of yellow colossal from the San Joaquin Valley, up from $8 last year at the same time. Jumbos were $9-10 and mediums $5, up from $7 and $4, respectively, last year at the same time.

Fifty-pound sacks of white mediums and jumbos from the valley were $9, similar to or below last year’s prices of $8-12.

The one exception to the strong market trend was Georgia, where a bumper crop has kept prices flat. The USDA reported July 29 that 200 million pounds of onions had shipped from Georgia year-to-date, up from 160 million pounds at the same time last year.

In the last full week of July, 249,200 cwt. of onions shipped from Central California, the top in the nation, according to the USDA. Close behind was New Mexico with 224,400 cwt., followed by Georgia (82,000 cwt.), Colorado (76,800 cwt.) and Washington (74,800 cwt.)

“The heat curtailed things enough to take the edge off volumes, enough so that prices responded favorably,” Minninger said. “One way or another, (all western states) had hot, dry weather.”

The heat has affected volumes and sizing, Minninger said, though he added that because of Georgia’s earlier bumper crop of large onions, there were still plenty of good-sized onions on the market in mid-summer.

However, he said the heat caused some Colorado growers to push up the beginnings of their deals.

In the first week of August, The Onion House LLC, Weslaco, Texas, will wrap up its Hereford, Texas, deal and turn its attention north to Colorado, said Steve Roach, salesman. The New Mexico deal, he added, also was winding down or close to doing so.

“Colorado should just start to get volume by the end of next week,” Roach said Aug. 1. “In Las Cruces there are some that are still going, some that are finishing.”

Roach agreed with Minninger that reduced volumes had had an effect on markets, but that onion quality was excellent.

Sweet onions from the Walla Walla region of Washington should ship through August this year, said Kathy Fry, marketing director of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee, Walla Walla.

Because of a wet spring, the deal got under way a week to two weeks late this year, in mid-June, Fry said. That could push back the end of the deal a week or two, she said.

“We’ve got a lot of beautiful onions in facilities just waiting to go,” she said.