Bybee went on to say, “While late-summer/early-fall rains are not uncommon, this was substantially more than the normal. Hopefully we do not see more until harvest ends. It has, without a doubt, put a delay in current onion harvest plans that could likely cause a gap in some packer’s production needs. I have not seen, nor been made aware of, any onions destroyed by the storm. Delays are a short-term certainty.”
Concurring with Bybee was onion grower Corey Maag, who serves both as president of the Malheur Onion Growers Association and chairman of the Idaho-E. Oregon Onion Committee. Maag said the system brought unusual weather, but he also said this year’s crop was coming in later due to weather delays during planting season.
“My crop is a week behind and is still pretty green,” Maag said. “Are my fields wetter than I’d like? Yes, but the crop is healthy enough to withstand it. We will likely have to delay when we start lifting, depending on the weather, but it’s not a catastrophe.”
Bybee said long-term consequences “are unknown at this time and could range from larger, improved yields to increased disease pressure on the storage crop. Nobody knows yet.”
Farmers in the Treasure Valley “will likely take precautionary steps to mitigate potential issues, an additional cost they were not hoping for,” Bybee said.
And Maag commented, “I expect my crop will be average, and the quality will be there. Right now we’re spraying with fungicide to mitigate any disease.”
Crews hope to return to fields within a week, and Bybee said the two-week forecast “looks very favorable to dry things up — but a short gap in supply is likely for some areas within the region”.
He said, “Today the sun is out and temperatures are slowly returning to normal. This was unusual weather for this region of the desert, for sure, but it is way too early to say it will influence the season.”