Consumers will be able to get the sweet taste of Vidalia® onions a little earlier this year as a result of Georgia’s mild winter. The Georgia Department of Agriculture has set Wednesday, April 12 as the official pack date for Vidalia® onions. Georgia’s underground treasure, the sweet Vidalia® onion, will be available in local grocery stores and farmers markets after that date. The early April date was recommended to Commissioner Gary W. Black during a grower meeting this week in the 20-county Vidalia® onion growing region.
“I would like to thank all members of the Vidalia® Onion Advisory Panel, scientists from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and our Depart of Agriculture professionals in the growing region for their science based input. At this time the 2017 crop is in excellent condition and considerably ahead of schedule thanks to good weather,” said Commissioner Black. “The panel recommended and I have accepted the proposal to set the 2017 pack date for Wednesday, April 12. We ask the Lord’s blessing on these farm families and feel confident that this date will allow our Vidalia® onion farmers to put the best product on the market for our consumers who have been waiting for that sweet Vidalia® flavor.”
Vidalia® onions cannot be packed or sold prior to April 12 as established by the rules of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The Georgia state legislature in 1986 entrusted the Georgia Department of Agriculture with the ownership of the Vidalia® onion certification mark, delegating the Commissioner to protect the integrity of the mark and ensure consumers receive only the highest quality sweet Vidalia® onions.
Commissioner Gary Black says the goal each year is 100% consumer satisfaction.
“The pack date of April 12 will ensure the highest quality onions are delivered to retail stores for consumers across the country, said Brett McLain of McLain Farms and chairman of the advisory panel. “The 2017 Vidalia® onion crop is ahead of schedule because of the mild temperatures this winter and we have reacted to that with an earlier pack date. We put out the best quality crop to date last year as an industry and we are looking forward to doing that again.”
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 268 million pounds of Vidalia® onions from 11,200 acres in 2015. Value of production for last year’s crop exceeded 120 million.