Sweet onion harvest

Walla Walla sweet onion harvest will kick off in mid-June. Michael J. Locati, president of the Walla Walla sweet onion marketing committee, hopes for improved yields and prices.

Walla Walla sweet onion farmers will begin harvesting the niche onion in June.

Harvest is likely to begin June 10-15, depending on weather, said Michael J. Locati, president of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee.

About 10 to 15 farmers raise the niche onion on 500 total acres in Walla Walla County and a small part of northeastern Oregon. Walla Walla sweet onions are protected by a federal marketing order designating the legal production area.

Locati said the crop looks good, with needed recent rains that helped take stress off the plants.

“We didn’t get any hail, so that’s a good thing,” he said. “We dodged a bullet there.”

Locati said rain and cool weather have resulted in some disease, but “onion thrips are almost unheard of.”

Locati hopes yields are up, but said he’ll know more as harvest gets under way.

Prices are slightly improved, average to slightly above average, due to a reduced global onion supply.

Last year, Locati introduced red, or “rosé,” Walla Walla sweet onions. He hopes to ramp up production in the coming years.

Red onions typically store better than white onions. Locati hopes the red Walla Walla sweets will store longer than regular Walla Walla sweets.

“I hope we have a good year, everyone’s safe and it doesn’t get too hot on us,” Locati said.

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