VIDALIA, Ga. â Growers have set April 18 as the official shipping start date for this yearâs Vidalia onion season.
The industry has also released its official season acreage.
The Vidalia onion industry has set April 18 as the official shipping start date for shipments of this yearâs onions.
An advisory panel consisting of 14 grower-shippers and county agents determined the seasonâs starting date at a March 16 meeting, said Bob Stafford, manager of the Vidalia Onion Business Council.
Some shippers may start shipping the official date, but those shipments require inspection stickers of U.S. No. 1 from the U.S. Department of Agricultureâs Federal-State Shipping Point Inspection Service, he said.
Stafford said the committee, which includes the dealâs large and small growers, vacillated between April 15-20 and decided to pick the 18th because it falls on a Monday.
âWe are trying to set it at a late enough date to where wonât have much lag time,â he said. âOnce we get started, we want to have supply. We will have a few earlier than that, but we set it to that date so we can get started and go right on through and not have any dead spots. We wonât have a big supply between when the first ones get ready but will have some supply.â
Stafford said grower acreage reports show plantings of 12,500 acres, up from the 12,096 planted in 2010. Stafford said the industry expects to pack nearly 5 million equivalent 40-pound cartons of onions this season. Last season, packinghouses shipped 4.7 million cartons. He said the industry usually tries to pack 4.5 million to 5 million cartons.
Committee member Terry Gerrald, partner with Statesboro-based Curry & Co. of Georgia LLC and Sweet Vidalia Farms, said he thinks the 18th should be a good starting date.
âMeeting and talking with others and looking at the crop, we have a real good crop thatâs real clean now,â he said March 16. âThe yields should be up some compared to last year. This should be a good season. There should be a lot of good quality onions.â
Stafford said the committee plans to forward its starting date request to Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black. Stafford said the commissioner usually accepts the industryâs recommendation.
Stafford characterized the onions as looking well and said the industry expects to bring a strong crop with high yields to market.