Famous Walla Walla sweet onions are in harvest season

Famous Walla Walla sweet onions are in harvest season

Walla Walla sweet onions are in the peak of harvest season, a long tradition in the city.

“It’s so delicious and the only thing bad about it is you only get it for about two months out of the year and the other 10 you just sit there waiting for the next batch,” said Kathy Fry-Trommald, Director of Marketing for Walla Walla Sweet Onions.

The sweet onion seed came to Walla Walla in the late 1800s. Now with 500 acres growing the renowned vegetable, about 16 million pounds are produced each year.

Michael J. Locati with Locati Farms said, “We’ve been growing Walla Walla sweet onion’s in this valley since 1909. My great great grandpa migrated here from Calabria in Italy he worked for a farmer that brought the onion over.”

Locati Farms sends out about three million pounds each season and is picking a few weeks early this year.

“We’ve gotten a lot of heat units this year early and so that the onions just matured and it was just time to go,” said Locati.

He says the onions have a lot of water, giving them a short shelf life so they’re shipped out to mainly the Pacific Northwest.

But Fry-Trommald said people as far as the East Coast call to put in their order for a special shipment.

“There are sweet onions all over the US but I do believe were probably the best,” said Fry-Trommald.

“The soils in this growing area are low in sulfur. The lower the sulfur, the less pyruvic acid you have,” said Locati. He said that low pyruvic acid is what gives them that sweet taste they’re famous for.

The annual Walla Walla sweet onion festival is also this weekend in historic downtown Walla Walla. The two day event will be held on Main Street, as well as parts of 3rd and 4th Avenues.

The festival features a large mix of vendors and entertainment, including sweet onion bowling and live chef demonstrations. Participants will also have a chance to enjoy bloomin’ onions and participate in an onion eating competition.