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Early-season onion demand has been good and movement heavy for Snake River Produce in Nyssa, OR, according to General Manager Kay Riley.

Mr. Riley told The Produce News during the first week of September that first loads had gone out Aug. 14, “about a week ahead of normal.”

He said, “Quality is good, despite a very hot and dry summer.”

Rail shipments of cured onions were expected to begin mid-month, and Mr. Riley said he sees a repeat of 2011’s rail volume.

“Last year was the most ever we had shipped by rail,” he said. “Thirty percent of our loads went by rail, and 100 percent of them shipped out of Nyssa,” he said.

The rail volume was up 10 percent over previous years.

snake-river-ieooc-section-sSnake River Produce General Manager Kay Riley and Transportation Manager Tiffany Cruickshank. (Photo courtesy of Snake River Produce)Although yellow Spanish Sweets make up the majority of Snake River’s onion production, Mr. Riley and Transportation Manager Tiffany Cruickshank agreed the red market has picked up steam, and Mr. Riley said, “I expect that to continue.”

Ms. Cruickshank said, “Demand for reds is increasing each year, particularly in foodservice. A good percentage of our orders have jumbo reds included.”

She noted that early onions showed good size, adding, “We will have plenty of all sizes this year.”

Working ahead of the curve in matters of food safety, Snake River utilizes GPS and a mock recall segment for its traceability and has received superior ratings from AIB. Its grower base is GAP-certified through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the shipper has implemented multi-level testing by Certified Onions Inc. in coordination with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Last season Snake River Produce introduced new consumer packs for retail, and in 2012 the packingshed added a new Ernst sizer for increased accuracy and flexibility.