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Onion Expert

Record-Breaking Harvest

Ashley Narvaiz - Thursday, October 08, 2015

Last weekend marked the earliest close to the onion harvest season in history. Never before have we been able to finish a season so quickly here in Nyssa, Oregon.  We owe it to the nearly perfect conditions that allowed the season to move steadily along.


Initially, ideal warm weather matured our onions quickly which allowed us to start our harvest season earlier this year, at the end of July. By starting earlier, and harvesting our early varieties sooner, we were able to harvest later varieties sooner too.


Additionally, harvest weather conditions were warm and dry – allowing three solid weeks of steady harvest with only a single day of rain. With no interruptions, the harvest progressed quickly without complications or damage from weather conditions. Now that ground harvest is finished, we will be supplying the market with our storage onions for the rest of our shipping season. Our onion fields will rest, or be planted with alternate crops to keep the soil healthy and ready for next season.


The valley is 1,300 loads ahead of last years’ numbers this time last year. This milestone season is a great indicator of seasons to come.

Watch our harvest video below!

Where the Asparagus Ends

Gabrielle Nelson - Wednesday, July 08, 2015

This year Froerer Farms had their longest growing season on record for asparagus. The Froerer family started growing asparagus in the 1990’s. During the past two decades the usual season had an average of 40 packing days, but this year Owyhee Produce fresh packed for 57 days. Farm Manager Craig Froerer said, “The crop started earlier because of warmer weather. The youngest fields are in their fourth year, and were heavily picked this year. In three years they will be in full production. Over the next three years [the asparagus’s] health and maturity will improve.” In other words there is an upward trend in asparagus which doesn’t show signs of slowing.

“All I equate [asparagus] to is a lot of hard work,” Packing Manager Robin Froerer explained. About 100 pickers harvested over 140 acres twice a day. For the first time ever Froerer Farms had to deal with a shortage of labor on the packaging side of business. Despite this set back the Owyhee Produce and IDA Spear merger has flourished. Since the January 2015 merger Owyhee Produce’s ability to provide benefits to their joined customers has increased. More employees are available to take customer calls and questions. Also, there are more employees to help with the logistics of shipping.

              This year Froerer Farms’ asparagus was enjoyed country wide: from Seattle to Florida. Some shipments traveled as far as Canada, but some produce always stays close to home. Local sales make any season better. “We’ve had great community and local support” Robin said. Because Froerer Farms sells to locals they reduce product waste. Also, Froerer Farms extensively gives back to the community that supports them.   “We have donated to every foodbank in the Treasure Valley,” Robin said, Froerer Farms has also donated to Meals on Wheels and nearby foodbanks in Star, Payette, Ontario, Nysa, Vale, and Parma. Some of the donated produce will also go to Portland Steve Morningstar from Western Idaho Community Action Partnership Incorporated (WICAP), said [Froerer Farms] has donated the most fresh produce of any local farm so far this summer. He is hopeful for more donations later. The asparagus, “helps families eat healthier and is a nice treat,” he said. WICAP has received asparagus from Froerer Farms since May. In June alone WICAP compiled 302 food boxes for 283 families. In addition to the food boxes Froerer Farms’ donations helped provided fresh produce to 405 adults, 220 children, and 95 seniors. Remarking on the end of this year’s asparagus season Craig Froerer said, “Production for the future looks very promising.” 

 

 

 

US (OR): Unusually early start green asparagus season

Shay Myers - Friday, April 10, 2015
“Our asparagus season is off to the earliest start in 25 years,” said Robin Froerer with Owyhee Produce. “We’ve experienced unseasonably warm weather and already started picking in March,” Froerer added. In an average season, picking starts between April 15 and April 20. “Although we’ve been picking for a few weeks, volumes are still light. This is mainly caused by last week’s cold spell when we lost some of our production to frost.” As the weather warms up again, volumes will become heavier. 



High prices
“Prices are fantastic for the growers,” commented Froerer. At the moment, they are about $50 - $56 for a 28 lb. box. The same time last year, prices were not bad, but came out quite a bit lower with $46 - $48 per 28 lb. box. “Once more volume comes on, prices will start to come down. We are in the same production window as Washington State and as soon as they come into full production, we will notice a drop in prices,” said Froerer. Asparagus is a labour-intensive crop and getting it picked is an issue. “It is a 12-20 year crop and because of its labor intensity many growers throughout the US are not replacing it and have taken it out in recent years.“



Owyhee Produce ships its asparagus all over the United States to mainstream retailers like Albertson’s, Winco’s and Walmart. Additionally, the company also is a supplier to the foodservice industry.

For more information:
Robin Froerer
Owyhee Produce
Tel: (+1) 541-610-0410

Late Season Onion Care Instructions

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Over the last 5-8 years we have dramatically improved our ability to extend the storage-onion shipping season.  The combination of hearty storage varieties, cold storages, and sprout inhibitors means that many we can now supply onions from right here in Oregon for 10 months of the year.  However, with the advantage these better skinned varieties come with there are also a few characteristics that must be managed in order to minimize shrink and maximize profits.

Later in the season you may begin to see green specks in the center of the onions.  This little green speck is what we call an internal sprout.  This happens naturally as the onion goes through its life cycle and this is a very manageable issue.  If an onion is kept cool it will take, at least, several weeks for the internal sprouts to become external ones.

Here are a few pointers:

  1. Keep onions cool (35-45 degrees) (While these temps may cause a bit of translucency, don’t worry it will go away with just 12-24 hours at 45 or higher)

  2. Keep onions well ventilated, the more air the better (Our storages run 34-36 degrees and have constant air flow.)
  3. Keep onions dry (Our storages run 55-65% humidity.)

  4. If you have to choose between dry and warm or humid and cool….choose humid and cool

  5. Avoid sudden changes in temp as the papery skin will draw-in and hold moisture

  6. No room in the cooler, try air stacking the bags to allow air to reach the center of the pallet

  7. Plan on keeping onions for 3 weeks during the later part of the storage season… treat them a bit more like you might an apple.

Pea Seed Harvest

Ashley Narvaiz - Thursday, July 31, 2014

5-6 days prior to these pictures being taken, this field was full, lush, and green. Now, after the pea plants have been cut, placed in rows, and dried by our Oregon sun, they are ready to be put through the combine to separate the chaff from the seeds.  

 


Owyhee Produce partners with farms in the mid west to provide them with the pea seeds they need to grow peas in their fields. Our climate is not conducive to growing peas, and the midwest doesn’t have a climate that can grow great seeds. Each area has been able to use their climate to the best of its ability by partnering together for the best possible result.

 

Before running the combine over the field, the moisture level is checked using the above canister to make sure the seeds have a moisture content under 14%. Anything over 14% will lead to the seeds molding during transportation.

 

As the combine runs over each row, everything is picked up by the rotating feeder at the front. As soon as the chaff and seeds enter the machine, they begin a process of separation.  The rotating, back and forth motion within the combine shakes the chaff off of the seed. The lightweight chaff is pushed over the top and out the back of the machine, while the heavier seeds are kept and compiled behind the cab.

After making a full run and filling the combine, the seeds are transferred to a truck in the field. That truck is taken to our facilities and the product is put in bins to be shipped and stored in Ontario. The seeds go through a super fine cleaning and two tests, one for germination and one for purity. Its imperative that the seeds are able to reproduce a fresh pea variety, and that  the group of seeds are of one single variety. The seeds will then be re-grown and harvested as fresh peas next season. 




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