Despite low yields and disease, this year's onion crop won't be making anyone cry, thanks to terrific prices, Texas Cooperative Extension reports.
“It is an exceptionally high market,” said Dr. Juan Anciso, Extension vegetable specialist in Weslaco.
Anciso said producers are receiving as much as $24 a sack for jumbo onions this spring, much more than the average of $5 a sack that was paid to farmers last year.
In previous years, the average yield has been 500 sacks of onions per acre. However, hail and disease problems have decreased the projected average yields this year to 400 sacks per acre, Anciso said.
“We haven't had a smooth harvest.”
These setbacks have led to fewer onions, which has helped generate this year's lucrative prices.
Another factor that has influenced the price increase is the reduction of onions available for import.
“Mexico didn't have the number of onions they normally do,” Anciso said.
Anciso said problems with fungal and bacterial diseases reduced the number of onions. Typically, fungal and bacterial diseases are brought on by excessive moisture. Hail damage also hurt this year's onion yields.
Also, producers have planted only 8,300 acres in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, which is down from the average 11,000 acres usually planted there. The remainder of the state's onion crop is grown in the Laredo area, the Winter Garden area in Southwest Texas and the Panhandle. Statewide, almost 22,000 acres of onions are grown, he said.
While Texas is known for its relatively mild, sweet and juicy onion, it still ranks fourth in onion production nationwide
California is the No.1 onion-producing state, followed by Oregon and Washington.