ProSource sees ‘exceptional’ early onions, ‘beautiful’ storage crop
Noting a dovetailing of seasonal transition from New Mexico to the Treasure Valley, Pro-Source president Corey Griswold said the Idaho-E. Oregon shipping season was going well, with good quality and size and all three colors.
“We started packing as scheduled in early August with all colors,” Griswold said in mid-September.
The Hailey, ID-based company saw its early volumes of GW Farms onions shipped from the Golden West facility in Parma, ID, line up perfectly with slowing down and finishing the packing season at Rio Valley in New Mexico.
“GW Farms made some significant adjustments to the early onion varieties planted, as well as growing and handling practices utilized to ensure the highest quality raw product was available from day one,” he continued. “As a result, our early onion quality has been exceptional. Sizing was smaller than our historical average but did not affect our ability to pack and fill orders. If the weather cooperates for the next few weeks, we will put a beautiful onion crop into storage. Looking at the crop as a whole, yields are going to be on par, and there will be a good size profile across the board available.”
With recent events and ongoing COVID-19 protocol in mind, Griswold said, “Golden West Produce, in conjunction with GW Farms, strives to maintain a progressive and rigorous food safety program that seeks to implement and adopt the ever-evolving techniques and strategies of the industry. To correctly manage and account for these advancements, we have both expanded and reallocated our staffing into hierarchical management of the food safety program that provides a more comprehensive, efficient, and effective program.”
This year, he said, has brought “one specific challenge for the operating season,” and that is the need “to adopt a management plan that addresses COVID-19 and to mitigate any potential exposure to our staff.” Griswold said, “Golden West Produce has initiated a program that meets or exceeds CDC guidelines and harbors a safe and efficient environment for all personnel. In addition to addressing this immediate situation, we have also designed application-based recording of many functions of the food safety program to include daily pre-operation checklists, field logs, chemical application reporting, and inbound/outbound truck inspections. Through the implementation of these new systems, our area-specific supervisors can accurately and immediately record this data and upload it directly to a location that can be reviewed by the food safety manager.”
Looking at transportation, an issue that comes up with regularity every year, Griswold said, “The transportation team anticipates some volume and rate challenges this season in the Northwest. The reduction of freight capacity due to the closure of Cold Connect in Washington is going to create competition and additional demand for trucks.”
Moreover, he said, “We are planning for and expect there to be some transportation side effects due to COVID-19. Overall, we feel like we are well-positioned with a reliable carrier base and will be able to move our freight effectively. However, there is strong potential for more truck shortages and higher rates than we experienced last season.”