River Point Farms Talks Onion Growing Practices, New Packing Facility, and Water Conservation
HERMISTON, OR - River Point Farms’ Delbert Gehrke, Vice President of Farming; Jason Meyers, Farm Manager; Dan Jepsen, Agronomist; Bill Dean, Vice President of Quality Assurance & Sustainability; and Bob Hale, President and CEO, join us to share a behind the scenes look at their onion growing operations and harvesting practices.
Much of River Point’s onion program is about the prep work beginning with practices that take root in the fall each year. Each fall, the company plants its cover crop, which serves two purposes - first, to protect the soil in wintertime from soil erosion, and second, in the spring, it will protect the onion seedlings from the environment, namely wind.
River Point is currently planting its red onions. The company pelletizes this seed, so that it can go through the planter more efficiently, which in turn allows them more exact placement for a better and more uniform crop.
The company takes the application of its water very seriously. River Point has been nationally recognized for its water conservation efforts with the company’s low-pressure, center-pivot sprinklers and low impact sprinkler systems.
The storage process utilized by River Point begins in the fall when the company puts its first onions into storage. The storage temperature may be raised to up to 95 degrees in order to cure the onions and get the neck nice and dry. This can last for a time period of 1-3 weeks. The temperature will then be dropped by about 1 degree per day until the onions reach a holding temp of about 34-35 degrees. The company may store the onions at a temperature cooler than that if River Point decides to store the onions for a longer period of time that can run up to 10 months.
As for the company’s dry, skin-on, packaging facility, River Point is about halfway through construction of this latest project. The facility is about 80,000 square feet and will be completed, including an installation of all equipment, in early August of 2015.
River Point Farms is certified Non-GMO and is also certified Pesticide and Residue-free for all onions that the company grows.