Agriculture, Coronavirus

A Sign Of Spring In Georgia: Vidalia Onions Set To Ship

Thursday is the official pack date for Vidalia onions, meaning they'll start showing up in stores in the next few days.
Thursday is the official pack date for Vidalia onions, meaning they'll start showing up in stores in the next few days.
Credit Kelly Jordan / AP PHOTO/The Florida Times-Union

It feels in some ways like the world has stopped — or, at least, like everything is different — but a lot out there is still proceeding more or less as it has.

The flowers and the pollen are going crazy in peak Atlanta springtime fashion.

And in another sure sign of spring in Georgia, the flying-saucer shaped sweet onions that only grow here will soon be in stores. Thursday is the official pack date for Vidalia onions, meaning they’ll start showing up in stores in the next few days.

The size of the crop is down a bit this year, and the biggest Vidalias won’t be as big as usual, said Bob Stafford, who manages the Vidalia Onion Committee.

“We had a lot of bad weather this year. We had some heavy rains,” he said.

There was another storm with hail, and then another this past week with heavy winds that pushed over the onion tops.

“When they do that, that shuts the onion down, and they don’t get as big as they normally would,” he said. “But it doesn’t hurt the quality.”

Stafford said Vidalia growers are taking precautions to protect agricultural workers’ health. And, though not as many people came in through the farm worker visa program as they were hoping for, there haven’t been major effects on the Vidalia crop from the coronavirus.

The annual Vidalia Onion Festival did get canceled though.

“The festival is just a real big event,” Stafford said. “People just beginning to get out and kind of show out a little bit with their cooking skills and so forth. And to have that canceled is kind of a somber mood.”

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said he hopes this year, especially, people try to buy not only Vidalia onions but also other Georgia produce to support local and South Georgia farmers.

“We’re on the cusp of blueberry getting into full swing, and then start with peach thereafter. Strawberry now is right on the edge, and then we’ll have all the wonderful spring and early summer vegetables that we’re so known for,” he said.

Black and Stafford both say the first Vidalias they eat this year will either be onion rings or on burgers.

 

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