Vidalia onions rode out a wild winter and are shaping up for a solid start to the season April 20.
A bitter cold January took a bite out of the crop that likely won’t reveal itself until the second half of the season, but any losses are expected to be minimal. At the moment, there are no pest or disease pressures – warm weather after the early cold snap has the deal coming off on the early side of the normal window.
“We’re going to have a good start, we’re going to have some good quality onions,” says Vidalia Onion Committee Executive Director Bob Stafford. “The cold got a few of the weak ones to start with but we have an ample supply. It might not be a bumper crop – we don’t know yet – but it might be.”
Regardless, Stafford says there will be “good quality for sure, we know that, and we’ll have a good marketable supply, that’s for sure. The tops are real green and pretty and the quality looks good so far. The weather’s cooperating with us now so it’s going to be ready — they’ll start digging onions the 8th through the 10th and we’ll start packing and shipping at 8 a.m. on the 20th.”
Vidalia onions are a registered trademark of the state of Georgia and the 80 registered growers will waste no time getting the new crop to market.
“Stores will be full that weekend within the driving area – they can kick out a load in an hour and a half or less than that, so there will be a lot of onions on the road,” Stafford said. “They can go ahead and get the onions ready, dry them, cure, them, do everything but put them in a Vidalia box before the 20th. But that morning, the trucks will be ready and the onions will be ready.”
Said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, “We celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Vidalia onion trademark last year, and are looking forward to another bountiful crop as we kick off the next quarter century of delivering the highest quality Vidalia onions to consumers across the country.”
In 2017, Georgia grew over 11,000 acres of Vidalia onions with a value of more than $120 million