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Onion Expert

You Didn't Really Eat Yams Today

Ashley Narvaiz - Thursday, November 23, 2017

Families will gather around the table today, ready to create memories and enjoy delicious food. One Thanksgiving classic you're bound to see is a dish of Candied Yams, topped with brown sugar and golden marshmallows! 


We're going to let you in on a secret... 

If you took a big scoop of those candied yams, they weren't actually yams!


                                   


Capital Public Radio shared an article on the myth behind the American Yam - and that myth is that what we enjoy as our candied yams, are actually sweet potatoes! Most Americans have never tasted a real yam - typically grown in Africa and far more starchy and watery. You've likely never seen a real yam in your life!


  

           Sweet Potato        Yam              Potato


So why do all of the shippers and grocery stores label sweet potatoes as yams - when they really aren't yams?


JJ Harbster explained when the sweet potatoes were first brought over to America, "They recognized that root, or the tuber, that looked very much like the yams they knew in Africa and they called them yams, and so the marketers, they just ran with it."


....It's really just from marketing!


This video we found explains the phenomenon too: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCDeMbgX7vk


In recent years, many sweet potato growers and shippers are trying to squash this mis-marketing and have started labeling sweet potatoes as sweet potatoes. The shift in grocery stores for consumers likely isn't coming soon. Kathy Means with the Produce Marketing Association based in Delaware says it may be a tough sell, especially this time of year, when family traditions come into play, regardless of how botanically incorrect the term yam may be.


“I think when you pull great-grandma’s recipe out of the recipe box for her candied yams or her marshmallow sweet potatoes, folks have a sense of what it is that they’re eating, in terms of family traditions and holidays and things like that,” says Means.


We're thinking it will take some time for Americans to stop asking for the candied yams to be passed along the table each Thanksgiving - but the shift is starting with growers and shippers. The future might look different for grandma's Candied Yams.

Social Media Gave Us Support

Ashley Narvaiz - Monday, July 17, 2017

Owyhee Produce is lucky to have such an amazing extended “family” that surrounds our three-generation operated farm – from the wholesalers that distribute our produce to consumers that share their favorite recipes. In recent years, social media has allowed us to share live videos of our harvest, photos of our hard-working crew, and get to know our YOU – our followers!


Over the past few months we’ve gotten to know a gentleman by the name of Chris Holmes, a fellow farmer at Mata Farms in Mississippi, via our Facebook page. A few years ago, Chris was in need of a load of whites and reached out to Shay and Robin:


Chris said, “I saw you guys rise from a very small operation to building your own packing shed and I knew the story. I’d seen some of your social media and knew the members of the Froerer family were very strong believers.”


That conversation made an impression on Chris and when he saw the Treasure Valley begin to experience the effects of Snowmaggedon 2017, Chris felt led to reach out to us again.


“I could see what was actually happening through Shay’s videos and updates. I could see it was crushing the company, having known them. It was just totally unbelievable. It compelled me to enlist members of my church to pray without ceasing to turn the tragic situation around," he said. 


More than just prayers, Chris made it a point to respond to each and every post we published with words of encouragement and humor to help us get through the winter. Maybe you’ve seen his creative memes in the comments? Our team began to look forward to seeing what Chris would come up with and it offered us some humor in a difficult time.


Social media has changed our industry in so many ways. At Owyhee Produce, we’re grateful for the opportunity it has given us to meet people like Chris and forge meaningful, supportive relationships in our industry. Thank you Chris – for everything! 


Here are some examples of Chris's awesome creations: 


    


  

Why Should You Ship Early Onions on Flatbeds?

Ashley Narvaiz - Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Early Onion varieties tend to have less skin, a larger neck, and larger roots versus the long-day onions. It's important to cure the onions and we do everything at our shed from when we first put them in bins to when we are packing to let the onions dry and put on more skin. 


Inevitably though, they do lose skin on the packing line. However, early onions can quickly replace their lost skin with a short 12-24 hours of air flow. Air flow is crucial in replacing lost skin, allowing onions to arrive in better condition and to typically have a longer shelf-life. 



Here's where flatbed transportation comes in. Flatbeds provide optimal air flow to the onions during transportation. Refrigerated vans are the second best option, while vented vans with our current heat conditions are the worst option. 


When shipping early onions and wanting to receive the best quality, longest-lasting onion, it's wise to employ flatbeds for all of your transportation needs! 

Christmas Trees and Freight Adjustments

Ashley Narvaiz - Wednesday, December 09, 2015

25-30 million Christmas trees are sold in the United States every year! A product that costs very little to grow, makes for a great profit during the holiday season. Oregon is listed as one of the top Christmas Tree producing states in the nation. What you may not know is that these farm-grown festivities bring competition for freight. 



With the weather cooling down, we can't ship our onions on flat bed trucks during the winter months, which limits our options for transportation. From a week before Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, Christmas tree shippers are feverishly shipping trees from coast to coast. With such a large profit return, tree shippers are willing to pay more for freight costs, simply because they can afford to. They have a month-long time crunch to make profit. 


This leaves shippers like us having a harder time not only finding trucks but also paying the freight costs. Typically we see a 15-20% increase in delivery rates, especially to the east coast. 


During this season, freight has been great up to this point. While the holiday prices are better than they were last year, the rush of Christmas trees has still affected our loads. 

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.

New Packaging Design Released by Owyhee Produce

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Thursday, December 04, 2014

When it comes to keeping your produce display clean and organized, onions can be one of the hardest to maintain. Each and every movement causes parts of the flaky onion skin to fall off onto your display – a problem not solely found in the individual onion display, but also underneath the typical 3lb. mesh bags.

With current packaging options, there hasn’t been anything retailers could do to prevent the mess and consequently have resorted to just maintaining it. For decades, open displays and 3 lb. bags have been the only two options for onion packaging – packaging that is not exactly effective, but is familiar to retailers and consumers alike. At Owyhee Produce, we weren’t content with staying with the familiar, and looked for a better product to provide for our retailers and furthermore, their consumers.

Owyhee Produce is excited to announce a new innovative onion packaging option entitled The Sleeve Pack.




Still employing the use of a mesh bag, instead of loosely containing the onions, The Sleeve Pack hugs the onions in a side-by-side display that minimizes movement, and maximizes cleanliness and organization.

At the retail level, The Sleeve Pack makes displaying onions easier with its stackability and its assurance of consistency – offering 2 lbs. of onions all the same size.

Outside of the store, The Sleeve Pack offers your consumers great benefits at home. The Sleeve Pack continues its traits of easy storage and cleanliness, adding the ability to knot the open the slim bag for later use, a convenience that the open mesh bags can’t offer.

Shay Myers, General Manager of Owyhee Produce, is excited for retailers to reap the benefits of the Sleeve Pack’s design.

“The Sleeve Pack is innovative, it looks great, and I anticipate it driving sales,” Myers said. “But the bottom line for me is to get the absolute best product out to my customers. I want to give them an added value to their products they sell to their customers so that they can stand out.”

With a fully operational packaging system in place, Owyhee Produce is looking forward to sending The Sleeve Pack out with the start of the new year. At present, The Sleeve Pack will be sold in a carton 

(21/2lbs.). Contact Owyhee Produce at 541-610-0410 for more information. 

Owyhee Produce Adopts Early Tracking Technology-Signs Exclusive Deal with Locus Traxx Worldwide

Shay Myers - Friday, November 14, 2014

Traditional farming has changed drastically in the past century, in more ways than one. Machines and technology especially, have digitized and optimized farming practices for modern-day growers – and the evolution continues.

 

Tracking technology has been incredibly popular in the last few decades – generically being used to monitor mailed packages, coordinate road-trips with GPS systems, and tagging your personal location via Facebook. 

 

Shay Myers, General Manager at Owyhee Produce, has wanted to pair tracking technology and produce for years, but the technology hasn’t quite been where it needed to be. The process was rough, inconvenient, and too expensive to bother implementing – that is, until now. New, disposable, easy to use technology has been released by Locus Traxx and Owyhee Produce is on board as an early adopter.  During PMA Fresh summit in October, Owyhee’s Shay Myers penned an agreement for exclusivity on onions for the new SmartTraxx GO™ technology with David Benjamin, CEO of Locus Traxx Worldwide.


 

This new technology provides Owyhee Produce and its customers with a disposable tracker placed among the load. The tracker is activated upon release of the shipment and monitors the location and temperature of the load in real-time. 

 

“It takes out the guess work,” Myers said. “That’s really what it comes down to. The

SmartTraxx GO™ eliminates the breakdown of communication between the product receiver and the truck carrier. It’s all about preventing potential problems instead of having to react to them.  When we buy a 10 dollar widget from Amazon, we expect to be able to track it from shipping to delivery, but not with a 10 thousand dollar load of produce? That seemed crazy to me.”

 

So from now on, each electronic Bill of Lading from Owyhee will come with a tracking number and link.  This link works just like when you make a purchase on online, but instead of just knowing the general location of you package you will know the specific location and the temperature of the load in real time. 

 

What are the practical benefits of this system? 

  • Temperature Control

  • Location

  • Food Safety

  • On time deliveries

  • Assured Routing

  • Damage Prevention

 

Not only does tracking benefit the produce receiver, but it also benefits the grower/shipper. 

 

 

"As a shipper I like it,” Myers said. “It’s very valuable. When a customer calls, I don’t have to guess where their shipment is, or make three phone calls, and talk to the driver, etc. I know instantaneously where the load is exactly, always.”  

 

About Locus Traxx

Locus Traxx Worldwide is the leader in real-time temperature, location, and security monitoring for perishable and high value shipments in transit. Using their Oversight system and the technological superiority and versatility of the SmartTraxxTM system, Locus Traxx Worldwide can give customers access to critical data, at any time, and from any location. For more information, visit http://www.locustraxx.com

 

About Owyhee Produce

Owyhee Produce is a hybrid-farmer/agri-entrepreuneurial family business that farms over 3700 acres in Oregon and Idaho.  The company is proud to grow food for millions of consumers throughout the entirety of North America. The company provides customers with some of the finest onions on the market. For more information, visit www.owyheeproduce.com.

What Is The Onion Market Doing?

Shay Myers - Saturday, September 13, 2014

As always, the weather, the market, and various parts of the business world can greatly affect the onion market. Here is the Onion Market update as of September 8, 2014:

 

Market: Packing is at full swing at most packing sheds here in the Northwest. While harvest is just beginning here in the Treasure Valley, Washington has been going hard for about a week.

 

Yields: Yields in Washington are about average somewhere in the 700-750 cwt range. Harvest is approaching the 25-30% completion at this point. Reds and whites are the bright spot in the market with prices in the double digits for whites with reds not too far behind.

Yields in Idaho/Oregon have been a bit light to start with, mostly as a result of IYSV and lack of water. Many shippers are offering smaller sized onions than what they are used to. This is adding some down pressure to the market, especially among the smaller sizes.

 

Freight: A continued lack of drivers continues to demand very strong freight prices. Prices are similar, at this point, to what they were during this time last year, but there is even less negotiation when it comes to rates. East coast rates for refers can be as high as $8-$8.50 for refrigerated trucks. If you are able, utilizing flat beds at this juncture in the season could save you as much as 15-20%.


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