By the last week of February, one leading shipper of Texas onions expects to have a better handle on the extent of damage from the early February freezes.
So whatâs so special about the last week of February?
âThereâs a full moon Feb. 18, and thatâs when we start to see the first generation of seed stems,â the importer said.
This piqued my interest, to say the least. Iâve heard about ocean tides and werewolves and their reliance on the moon, but onions?
The grower didnât know why it was so, so I made some scientific inquiries with the aid of my esteemed colleague Mr. Google.
(Bear with me â I promise there will be a âseriousâ observation involving Mexican onions following this digression.)
The first thing an âonions full moonâ search turned up was a page from about.comâs site devoted to Pagans and Wiccans, which teaches you how to weave a âmagical onion braidâ when the moon is full, and which prayers to recite while doing it.
There were also several finds that involved full moons and the satirical online newspaper The Onion. My favorite was a 2009 photo with the caption, âStevie Nicks Dancing Alone on Beach Under Full Moon.â
It wasnât until page 2 of the search page that I found that there are, indeed, several reputable-looking sites devoted to the cultivation, harvest and storage of onions and other vegetables based on the cycles of the moon.
It all has to do with the moon's gravitational effect on the flow of moisture in soil and plants.
I believe my shipper source is vindicated.
Now, on to the more serious onion stuff I promised. An importer I talked to recently said he expects to hear a lot of chatter this year about the shipment of Mexican onions that bill themselves as sweet but really arenât.
An early flood of product from south of the border this year (at least two weeks before most Mexican granex deals were set to begin) depressed markets in late January and early February.
Itâs frustrating enough when U.S. marketers donât know what to expect, volume-wise, because Mexican shippers hold their cards so close.
What made it worse this year, the importer told me, is that a hybrid grano â globe-shaped compared to the flatter granex â was stealing market share from genuinely sweet Peruvians still in the market.
âI got the test back from the lot I bought, and itâs as hot as any (non-granex onions),â he said. âI think itâs something that will be brought to light this year.â
If it is, it will be yet another chapter in the ongoing battle over sweet versus hot, this certification body over that one. What started as a Vidalia-centered debate, it seems, is crossing international borders.
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