Ship date set for 2015 Vidalia Onion season
Following the recommendation of the Vidalia Onion Advisory Panel, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black has announced April 27 as the official shipping date for the 2015 Vidalia® onion marketing season. The 16-grower panel made the recommendation to the Commissioner during a meeting held at the Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center in Lyons, Ga.
“The meeting was very productive,” said Bo Herndon of Herndon Farms and chairman of the advisory panel. “All members of the panel were represented and I believe we came to the best possible outcome. “
Any Vidalia® onions shipped prior to April 27th must undergo a Federal-State Inspection certifying that the onions have met the established grade requirements and are under “Positive Lot Identification” as approved by the Federal-State Inspec- tion Service. Baby Vidalia® onions with greens attached may also be shipped earlier in the season.
Growers settled on the April 27 date after discussion focused on historical and scientific data regarding maturity, this year’s weather impacts and market opportunity. Growers agreed that starting too early would be detrimental to the Vidalia brand.
The worst thing we can do is start too early,” said Brett McLain of McLain Farms. “In the past we’ve done just that and have shipped immature onions and it has just about ruined our industry. And that is what we have been working with the Commissioner to avoid, and I think this date will help us accomplish that.”
The later date will allow for more inspection to assure the quality and maturity of the onions meets marketing standards.
“In the past we’ve had quite a few problems while inspecting the early onions, and some growers have had to throw away quite a few onions due to immaturity” said Mike Sutton with the Ga Federal-State Inspection Service. “With last year’s later pack date, we didn’t have near the immaturity issues, and the overall quality of the early onions was the best we’ve seen.”
After hearing from the growers, Commissioner Black agreed with the April 27 ship date.
“We are pleased to once again work with our growers in the setting of this date to bring consumers the quality and unique taste of the Vidalia® onion brand that they expect and deserve,” Black said.
Vidalia® onions are unique to Georgia and may only be grown in parts of a 20-county area in the southeastern part of the state. The onions are prized for their sweetness and mild flavor and can be used raw or cooked. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Georgia farmers harvested 258 million pounds of Vidalia® onions from 11,000 acres in 2014. Value of production for last year’s crop exceeded 108 million.