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Good onion harvest meets weak prices for area farmers

By Pat Caldwell

The Enterprise

VALE – Local growers produced bigger onions this season but prices for the county’s biggest commodity are down.

Farmers and some packing firms also faced difficulty finding enough workers.

“Prices are terrible,” said Grant Kitamura of Murakami Produce Company, an onion-packing firm in Ontario.

Murakami said local yields were about average but area onion farmers could lose money if the prices for the crop stay where they stand now.

Murakami said, for example, a 50-pound bag of onions not placed in permanent storage currently sells for about $6. Once an onion crop enters storage, he said, additional costs – such as for power – boost the cost of that bag to $6.50. At the same time, he said, the selling price for that bag is between $3 and $4.

The onion market, he said, “is lousy -- very little return for . . .