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South Texas onion crop faring better than last year

With storage onions gone and prospects for a late Georgia Vidalia onion harvest likely, south Texas sweet onion producers may see some profit opportunity this spring.

“The onions are looking great,” says Darrell Duda, general manager of Valley Onions in McAllen, Texas. “Maybe this year farmers will make a little money.”

He said that at early season, 50 pounds of jumbo yellows were bringing $5 to $6; white onions $7 to $9; 40 pound cartons of 1015s $10 to $12; and 25 pounds of red onions were bringing $9 to $12.

“We're still overlapping with Mexican onions, so there's always an annual dip early in the season,” says Duda. “Storage onions are pretty much gone now, too, and Georgia's Vidalias will be coming on late this year.”

Yields and quality are exceptional due to excellent weather and few diseases have been reported. All of which means that Texas onions should fare well in the market in the coming months.

The south Texas onion harvest peaks between mid to late April, and should continue until mid-May.

The onion is the state's most valuable vegetable crop. South Texas farmers will harvest an estimated 14,700 acres of onions, totaling 4.704 million hundredweight. Based on a survey taken by Texas Agricultural Statistics Service, yield is estimated at 320 hundredweight per acre, up 10 hundredweight from last year.

The Rio Grande Valley, which produces 80 percent of Texas's onions, is responsible for getting the first domestic crop of fresh spring onions to U.S. tables. This includes the Spring Sweet variety as well as the popular Texas 1015, which accounts for one-third of onion acreage.

“The onions are looking great, Maybe this year farmers will make a little money.”

Last year, south Texas onions, although of good quality and yield, came on early because of the warm weather and came up short in profit because of the competition with storage onions. At one point producers were getting only $3 for a 50 pound bag, a price no farmer could make money on. This year producers are expecting better prices.

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