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Warm weather improving Vidalia onion production
Vidalia onion suppliers in Georgia are very pleased with the season so far, as quality is very good. The earlier cooler spring weather had resulted in a slower start, but ideal weather conditions in recent weeks has improved production.
"Volumes have really picked up in the last few weeks as temperatures have been much warmer than earlier in the spring," said Joey Johnson of J&S Produce. "The season started slowly while growers were waiting for temperatures to pick up. Onions like warm conditions and as a result, supplies have now improved. Production has ramped up and quality is excellent."
Prices have been lower
For the first part of the season, prices have been lower than growers would have liked. Some suspect that there has been downward pressure on prices from additional Peruvian sweet onions in storage, as well as good supplies from Texas. Suppliers have also noted that continued pressure from Peru supplies is also weighing on just how long the Georgia season extends.
"Prices have not been as high as we would have liked," Johnson observed. "Costs are always going up, so this puts pressure on growers. Generally by Labor Day, Peru sweet onions begin arriving into the US, so there is usually a push to move the Vidalia crop before then. Many growers will have plenty of supplies after this date, but it's been observed that the season is shorter than in times past. It also depends on cooler capacity. We have one grower that has their own packing house and large cooling capacity, so they are able to extend their season slightly longer."
Reputation of quality still there
Despite many regions producing sweet onions now, Vidalia onions still retain their reputation for top quality, sweet onions. The crop this season looks to be continuing in that manner. "Vidalia onions are still the sweetest, best tasting onion out there," Johnson said. "We really believe this year's crop is truly outstanding and we continue to believe in the product. J&S Produce have customers that keep coming back to us on an annual basis. Their loyalty is a reflection of the quality of the produce."
The choice for customers when it comes to packaging is also increasing each year. Johnson noted that when J&S Produce began, onions were almost exclusively being shipped in 50lb and 25lb bags. But now, things have changed, and there is much more variety when it comes to sizes. "The large bags were all we did when we started," he recalled. "Now there are many more choices for customers, with packs of different sizes from 2lb, 3lb, 5lb, and up."
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