Harvest Has Begun, and Fresh Onions Are on Their Way

Spring is here, and at Gills Onions that means one thing: harvest has begun! In addition to having the longest shelf life in the industry, Gills Onions is always one of the first to market in California with a fresh crop of delicious onions. We’re celebrating the transition from storage onions season to fresh onion season. Here’s why you should too. 

What Fresh Onion Season Means for You

April 19 marks the start of the freshest Gills onions arriving to our customers. We are raking in fresh yellow onions from our fields across California. Red onion harvest will follow around the first part of May. Since our onions can always be relied on for fantastic flavor, you may wonder what differences you can see between onions fresh from harvest and those cultivated for storage season. 

There are several notable perks to fresh onions. Virtually no odor can be detected from the onions that come directly from harvest. There also won’t be any green sprouting or telescoping, which can sometimes happen when an onion reaches the end of storage season and is trying to grow again. You’ll also notice some visible differences between fresh onions and storage onions. It’s common for fresh red onions to appear pale and even almost white. This color difference has to do with the early season varieties we plant and the fact that red onions develop a deeper color as they cure and wait to be processed. Your yellow onions may appear to be whiter as well for the same reasons. 

What Harvest Season Looks Like at Gills Onions

At Gills Onions, we strategically time our onion planting, harvesting, and varieties so that we can meet the need for onions year-round. We typically harvest from April to November from three major growing areas of California. Each region has its own set of strengths that help us consistently produce quality onions. 

Our fields in Imperial County (Brawley) are the first to harvest each year. This region gives us a strong onion supply as we transition out of storage onion season. Then, we move to Kern County (Bakersfield), where a large amount of our onion supply is grown. We plant such large amounts in this region because the environment favors short, intermediate, and long day onions alike. Finally, we move to harvest in the fall into Monterey County (King City). These fields provide the bulk of our storage onions. 

In order to harvest over such a long span of time, we have to plan our planting accordingly. We typically start planting the Brawley fields in October or November each year so they are ready to start harvesting in April. The final fields in King City are usually finishing being planted as we start harvesting the Brawley crop in the spring. This strategy keeps growers busy, but it keeps our customers in delicious onions no matter the time of year. 

Behind the Scenes of Harvest

This video gives you a brief behind the scenes look at how our onions are harvested. You’ll see two machines passing through the field. The first is a chopper, which cuts the green tops off of the onions. The second is the digger, which pulls the onions from under the ground onto the earth’s surface. Once these two machines have done their jobs, a row of beautiful fresh onions can clearly be seen. 

These onions are left in the open air and warm sunlight to cure for two to three days. Then, they are picked up and transported to our sorting facility, where they are checked for quality. The best onions are loaded onto trucks and delivered to our processing facility in Oxnard, California, where they are washed, peeled, sometimes cut, and prepared for shipping to customers like you. 

Gills Onions are 100 percent California grown and, boy, do they taste good. But don’t take our word for it. Fresh onions are on their way to you, and our onions speak for themselves. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

Our Commitment to Fresh Produce

When you buy fresh produce at the store, you expect it to be fresh. Chefs purchasing fresh produce from suppliers expect the same. Unfortunately, what you pay for isn’t always what you get. 

Unless you buy fresh products from Gills Onions. 

We pride ourselves in offering the longest shelf life in the industry. We want our products to be the freshest, most delicious thing on your plate. Here’s how we back that guarantee. 

Why Shelf Life Matters 

A study from the Food Marketing Institute found that 80% of shoppers cite high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables as the most important thing when choosing a primary grocery store. And yet, time and again you’ll find consumers who buy what looks like a fresh piece of produce at the store, only to realize it has gone bad shortly after taking it home. 

This experience is backed up by a Zest Labs study that found that nearly half of the fresh produce they sampled in stores spoiled prematurely. 

Why does this happen?

The fresh supply chain is up against some very real challenges, namely a race to the consumer and a race against the clock. Fresh produce spends up to half of its shelf life in transit. From the second produce is harvested, the count down to break down begins. Growers and processors must use advanced equipment and technology and handle products with great care to preserve the quality while moving it quickly from field to consumer. 

It doesn’t matter how great your produce is when it’s harvested if it has gone bad by the time it is ready to be used. 

The Gills Onions Difference 

Presenting a fresher product to our end customer starts at the seed. Our unique onion growing prescription creates a “dryer” onion. With less water in the cells, these onions break down more slowly and resist the creation of that foul-smelling onion juice that accelerates the process of “going bad.” 

Once our onions are harvested, the number one factor in maintaining freshness is temperature control. We keep the product in a constant, controlled temperature range of 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This delays the natural breakdown of the onion cells and prevents damage that could come from freezing. 

By keeping the temperature fairly constant, we avoid the negative effects of “temperature abuse,” the strain put on vegetables when they come in and out of the cooler repeatedly. 

When it’s time to package our products, Gills Onions uses a breathable, soft-pack bag as opposed to a hard-pack vacuum seal. Breathability helps prevent bacteria growth, which causes a sour smell and a sour taste. 

With these practices in place, Gills Onions can deliver a consistently fresh product all year long. Our onions have a shelf life of 18 days. Most other onions are given 12 days. That means that even our farthest customers waiting for onions to arrive from California receive a product that still has about 10 days of freshness guaranteed. 

When you use a Gills Onions product, you can cook with confidence, knowing that your food will taste fresh because it is fresh. Every product in our line-up is grown, processed, and transported with quality as the priority. 

But like we always say, don’t take our word for it. Our onions speak for themselves.

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more.