Vidalia onion farmers will soon be planting next year’s crop.
Chris Tyson, University of Georgia Extension Area Onion Agent at the Vidalia Onion & Vegetable Research Center in Lyons, Georgia, said producers have already ordered seed and will prepare land with fumigation and treatments in August. Seedbeds will be planted in September through the first of October.
Low Supply in 2020
Growers are hoping for a better growing season in 2021. The onion supply was shorter this year, due in large part to different weather events. Storms came through Southeast Georgia in April and delivered hail damage to some of the onion crop.
“What the growers put on the shelf was a quality product, there just wasn’t as much of it to go around. Then the COVID pandemic created some extra challenges. It actually created a higher demand for a lot of food staples, and onions are one of those items. Fortunately, the Vidalia onions, most of those items end up on the retail shelf for direct to the consumer; the majority of them do, whereas some of other types of onions may go to food service,” Tyson said. “With the COVID going on, I think it hurt the food service industry, but it was good for the retail industry. Consumers, they’ve still got to eat, and they were going to the grocery store and eating at home more. That worked into our favor. When you have less to go around, the crop was short to begin with and when you have that, it makes it even shorter.”
The growing season also provided abnormally high temperatures in March. Tyson said a “heat wave” basically moved through the region that did not set well with the onion crop.
“To an onion that’s not used to that or that’s trying to grow a bulb, it created some stress for the crop. That was one reason for the shorter supply this year,” Tyson said.