In addition, marketing continues to play a major role in the industry’s success. Long-day onions grown in Idaho and Oregon have a long shelf life, meaning there is generally a good supply of them available to retailers long after the growing year. But “short-day” onions, those historically grown south of Amarillo, are sweeter onions and are in greater demand by retailers and consumers.

“Sweet onions are an entirely new category for producers. Consumers and retailers want the sweeter onions and growers in Texas are sitting in the driver’s seat when it comes to meeting this demand,” Holmes says.

McClung says early harvest is just now getting underway in the Valley but the bulk of harvest will take place at the end of March and early April. If weather cooperates and market prices continue to inch upward, 2012 could prove to be good year for Texas onion growers.

“Farmers are traditionally optimistic,” adds Holmes. “But when it comes to the possibility of a good onion crop this year, I think we have reason to hope for a good year. A lot of farmers opted to grow corn or cotton this year after last year’s tragic onion market crash, and the fewer acres combined with a shorter supply from Mexico is going to give us a chance to do well this year—as long as the weather cooperates.”