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Officials anticipate slightly reduced New Mexico onion volume

Katie Goetz, public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, said the effects of winter weather are expected to reduce the state's onion volume slightly in 2013. "New Mexico experienced a cooler-than-normal winter which affected the crop yield for over-winter onions," she told The Produce News. "Yields are down a bit but not drastically. Some of the early onions might not size like they normally do. But spring-seeded onions should yield and size normally."

New Mexico is home to approximately 20 onion growers and shippers concentrated in the southern part of the state. "A little more than half of the state's onion acreage is typically in Dona Ana County, while the remainder is grown in Luna and Sierra counties," she said. The majority of production is conventional.

OpenerShot-NM-OnionsAt the peak of summer harvest, New Mexico is a major onion supplier for the nation. (Photo courtesy of 20/20 Produce Sales Inc.)All onions grown are non-storage. "New Mexico onion growers produce mostly yellows," Goetz went on to say. "But there are some whites and some reds. The major varieties of commercially grown New Mexico onions include Grano, Granex, Sweet Spanish and midsummer hybrids such as the popular Nu-Mex variety."

The state's onion shipping season begins in late May and generally continues to late August. According to Goetz, some sheds can ship through mid-September. "The retail market is the biggest market for New Mexico onions," she said. "But a few shippers also sell them through the foodservice and/or processing channels."

In addition to the domestic marketplace, onions grown in New Mexico are marketed in Canada and Mexico.

On June 10, the National Agricultural Statistics Service New Mexico Field Office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported on the condition of New Mexico's onion crop. "Onion conditions ranged from fair to excellent," the report stated, noting that 22 percent of the crop had been harvested.

On June 17, the National Potato and Onion Report provided data about pricing of the 2013 New Mexico Onion crop. Demand that day was moderate. Pricing for yellow Grano 50-pound sacks of super colossals was $12; colossals were $9-$10; jumbos were $8-$9; and mediums were $9. Repack sizes were $7-$8.

Fifty-pound sacks of jumbo white onions sold for $12-$14, and mediums sold for $10-$12. Twenty-five pound sacks of Red globe jumbos sold for $9-$10, and mediums sold for $7-$9.

In its report, Vegetables (September 2012), NASS provided historical data on New Mexico's onion crop. According to the report, growers planted a total of 5,500 acres in 2012, down 10 percent from 2011. Growers harvested 5,400 acres in 2012, down 9 percent from the previous crop year. The production level for 2012 was set at 2.9 million hundredweight, up 9 percent from 2011.