As the Mexican onion season reaches its peak volumes in late February, Texas onion shippers are watching closely.

“We know they have a nice crop there this year,” said Bill Grasmick of William D. Grasmick Co. Inc., Granada, Colo. “The Northwest will likely clean up before we get started. Mexico is the unknown.”

Last season’s high markets were largely due to poor weather conditions in Mexico and South Texas. Other than the late freeze, the weather this season has been ideal.

There’s hope, said Don Ed Holmes, owner of The Onion House LLC, Weslaco, for a smooth transition.

“Mexico got started earlier than usual this year,” he said. “They were shipping around the 10th of January, which is two-three weeks earlier than normal. Usually we finish Mexico by the 10th of March and we’re on track to be out by the fifth.”

Some good timing by Texas shippers could mean a strong start to the season, he said.

“If we in Texas can drag our feet a little while and give them an opportunity to get their crop out of the way — say the first week in April — we may see prices climb back up,” he said. “Hopefully the western boys will be finished up by then.”

Some shippers south of the border may have gotten out of the gate a little early this season, said Curtis DeBerry, owner of Boerne, Texas-based Progreso Produce Ltd.

“There was no doubt that there were some uncured onions around during the first 30 days or so,” DeBerry said. Mike Martin, president of Rio Queen Citrus Inc., Mission, Texas, and its sister company Elmore & Stahl Inc., said most Texas shippers aren’t in a hurry this season.

For Mexican growers, this season is a good opportunity to recover from last season’s terrible crop conditions, Martin said.

“They had terrible crop conditions and short supplies and, frankly, not very good quality (last year). Because of the really strong market in Mexico and the less than great quality, a lot of onions stayed in Mexico last year where they’d have no issues with import requirements.”

This year, however, has been just the opposite.

“It’s been beautiful, if not a little dry but that’s not a bad thing for onions,” he said. “Because of that yields are up. Crossings are way ahead of last year.”