Ship date set for 2015 Vi­dalia Onion sea­son

The Covington News - - BUSINESS - STAFF RE­PORTS news@cov­

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.

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