Vol. 27, Issue 2, January 19, 2011 – PDF version
Jose G. Peña, Texas AgriLife Extension Economist-Management
The initial U.S. spring onion planted acreage estimate of 32,400 acres is up 4,000 acres (14.1 percent) from 28,400 acres planted last year and close to the 31,200 acres planted in 2008 when markets weakened. Early estimates of spring onion production, based on estimates of acres for harvest by region, and/or the historical ratio of planted-to-harvested acreage and average yields of the past 5 years, at 911.3 million pounds is up 19.0 percent from last year’s crop of 765.6 million pounds when markets were at near record highs (See Figure 1).
While this initial production estimate is higher than last year, the spring onion market outlook appears relatively bright. Except for last year’s low crop, the new production estimate is the lowest since 1994 and 7.7 percent lower than the 987 million pound crop produced in 2007 when prices reached record highs. In addition, carry-in storage onion stocks may be low this spring. According to USDA-NASS, October 2010 Vegetable report, storage onion production in 2010 at 5.47 billion pounds was down to 4.7 percent from 5.74 billion pounds produced in 2009. This would indicate that storage onion supplies may be reduced significantly by early April when the harvest in Texas starts.
Producers are hoping for good market prices, especially as producers are facing increased production costs. While much lower than last summer’s excellent spring onion prices, medium yellow imports from Mexico are currently trading for about $10-$12/50 lb bag. Medium storage onion yellows are trading for about $10-$11/50 lb bag.
Potential imports from Mexico remains as the wild card in relation to early spring onion supplies and market prices. Early reports indicate that spring onion plantings in Mexico are down slightly from last year.
The U.S. estimate of spring onion plantings at 32,400 acres is up 4,000 acres (up 14.1%) from last year. The estimate of acreage for harvest at 28,733 acres is up 10.9 percent from last year’s harvest of 25,900 acres (See Table 1). NOTE: USDA reports of acres planted and for harvest in Arizona were discontinued in 2010.
Spring Onion Production in Texas
The estimate of acres for harvest in Texas combined with average yields of the past five years indicates that spring onion production in Texas will approximate 336 million pounds, up 18.4 percent from 283.6 million pounds produced last year and up 11.9 percent from 300.3 million pounds produced in 2009. Increased production in Texas is primarily attributed to an increase in plantings after several years of gradual reduction in plantings. After showing a significant planting decline since 17,700 acres were planted in 2006, spring onion planting in Texas for the 2011 harvest at 13,000 acres is up 30.0 percent from 10,000 acres planted last year (See Figure 2). The spring onion crop was planted on time in Texas and is making excellent progress under excellent growing conditions.
Overall, the spring onion industry remains optimistic about the market outlook.
Appreciation is expressed to Dr. Juan R. Anciso, Associate Professor and Extension Vegetable Specialist for his contribution and review of this article.