The wet winter weather has Georgia Vidalia onion producers concerned about not getting into their fields to apply fungicide sprays or make fertilizer applications. Certain diseases could soon become problematic considering how much rain the Vidalia onion region has received this year.
“They’re just not able to get caught up with their applications or get out there and do what they need to do,” said Chris Tyson, University of Georgia Extension Area Onion Agent at the Vidalia Onion & Vegetable Research Center in Lyons. “We are always concerned about disease. This is the time of the year when we’re spraying for fungal diseases like Botrytis and Stemphylium. They’re actually not as bad right now as they normally are. But because of the weather, we’ve had below-average temperatures, and they just haven’t gotten fired up and going like they normally would at this time of the year.
“They’re definitely creeping up on us out there. We just hope it will dry out and we can and try to play catch-up with everything. That’s the biggest concern right now.”
Vidalia, Georgia received 9.73 inches of rain from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14 with 25 rainy days, according to the UGA Weather Network. That’s almost triple what it received in 2019 when it amassed 3.83 inches. That doesn’t even account for cloudy, overcast days when it is not raining. Sunny days have been few and far between lately.
“Looking at some of the weather data, we got almost two inches over the weekend and we were already wet. We had a half-inch to an inch last weekend and some during last week. We haven’t been able to dry out,” Tyson said.
The onions continue to progress, though, through the adverse conditions.
“The onions that are out there look good. They’re a little smaller than they usually are. But overall, I think we have a good-looking stand of onions out there across the industry. They’re a little on the smaller side right now,” Tyson said. “We know that can change real fast. We’re just looking for a little bit of warmer weather and sunny days to help them do that.”