Better crop, higher prices predicted for Texas onions

As the spring onion harvest gradually gains momentum in the lower Rio Grande Valley, farmers are looking forward to a better year and higher market prices, Texas Cooperative Extension reports.

“While most of the spring onions currently on the market are being imported from Mexico, the season is opening to excellent price bids of $14 to $16 per 50-pound bag” says Jose Peña, Extension economist-management in Uvalde.

“Planting spring onions in Texas normally takes place in the fall and should be harvested in the spring and summer.”

After near-ideal weather conditions with a cool fall and a relatively mild winter, spring onions made good progress and are gradually sizing up to harvesting maturity in the lower Rio Grande Valley.

The crop in the Winter Garden region of Texas will not be ready for harvest until around May and June, Peña said.

Spring onions grow best in a sandy loam soil with clear weather. Adequate soil moisture ensures proper development of the bulbs. Hail and excessive rain can cause serious damage to the crop, especially as the bulbs reach maturity.

So far the crop has escaped serious growing problems, Pena says.

Still, onion planting in Texas is down 23 percent from last year. Weak markets and water problems last year discouraged planting this year, Peña says.

John Robinson, Extension economist in Weslaco, says market prices are rising for spring onions. Heavy rains resulted in a smaller crop in Mexico last year, and producers are exporting their crops later than usual. Consequently, Texas' market prices are increasing.

Onions kept in storage all winter in Oregon and Washington were shipped to Asia, which also helped increase prices.

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