BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho State Department of Agriculture has set a March 15 deadline for disposing of cull onions in Ada, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee and Washington counties.
Culls can support destructive onion maggots if left in fields to sprout.
Mike Cooper, bureau chief of plant industries with ISDA, explained adult flies emerge in April and May and are attracted by the odor of sprouting onions and volunteer seedlings, and culls can support fly breeding and egg laying.
Culls must be disposed of by pit burial, animal feeding, composting, spreading, chopping or shredding. Trucks hauling onions should also be covered to avoid spills. Any culls resulting from onions sorted after March 15 must be disposed of through approved methods within a week.
ISDA rules on cull disposal are available at http://adminrules.idaho.gov/rules/current/02/0617.pdf.
Officials with onion packing sheds say onion prices have been strong lately, which gives growers more incentive to get as much as they can from last season’s crop as they finish removing it from storage for processing or shipping. According to USDA, prices of medium yellow onions in Idaho and Malheur County, Ore., on March 11 ranged from $16-$20, mostly $18, for a 50-pound sack.
Ontario, Ore., area onion farmer Craig Yano said he finished packing his crop on March 1, and just in time as warm weather was rapidly changing the quality.
He said he had fewer No. 1s and more lower-grade No. 2s, primarily because onions were losing their skins. His farm was busy disposing of culls on March 11, but Yano said he had no more waste than normal.
“The good news is they’re worth some money,” Yano said. “It wasn’t a great storage year, but it wasn’t a disaster.”