What is in this article?:
- South Texas onion harvest well underway
- Above break-even
While the jury is still out on how well onion growers will do with this year's reduced crop, farmers say they are optimistic now that final yields and price points may well play in their favor.
Two weeks into harvest, South Texas onion growers say in spite of another year of drought, water shortages, fewer acres planted, and a smaller yield so far, onions coming out of the ground are in good shape and wholesale prices are steady, a better scenario than expected.
"We are about 20 percent of the way through harvest at this point," reports Ed Holmes, onion grower and owner of the Onion House in Weslaco.
Holmes says it's not going to be a bumper year last year when yields were high, quality was excellent, demand was steady and prices were very good. But he says it looks like this year's crop is going to at least exceed early season predictions.
"We don’t have any disease or pest concerns, but we did start harvesting rather late. We had an unusually cool winter, which resulted in a later start to the season. Normally the South Texas onion crop would come in five days on either side of March 20 and be done five days either side of May 10. This year we didn’t even get started until April 10 and my guess is we’d be real lucky to be done by May 20," he added.
Holmes makes reference to last year's bumper yields, estimated to be as high as 1,200 to 1,400 bags of onions per acre on better fields compared with about an 800 bags per acre average most years. Also, the wholesale price last year ranged between $15 and $22 dollars per bag.
By comparison, this year's expected yields (based upon this early stage of harvest) are about 600 to 700 bags per acre with wholesale prices steady between $10 and $12 per bag.