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April 3-- Georgia Agriculture Commissioner, Gary W. Black, today announced the official “Shipping Date” for the 2013 Vidalia® Onion Marketing Season is April 15, 2013.

The shipping date is based on the recommendation of the Vidalia® Onion Advisory Panel under the authority of the law, rules and regulations applicable to Vidalia® onions.

Vidalia® onions may ONLY be shipped prior to April 15th  if each and every load being shipped has a Federal-State Inspection Certificate stating the onions have met the established grade requirements and are under “Positive Lot Identification” as approved by the Federal-State Inspection Service. “Baby” Vidalia® onions with greens attached may also be shipped earlier in the season.

{mosimage}“The Federal-State Inspection assures the quality of the onions and that they have matured to meet the marketing standards,” Commissioner Black said. “Onions that are harvested and shipped too early and do not meet the grade requirements can damage the reputation of this important crop.”

Most in the industry are still reeling from the 2012 crop, where growers say historically higher-than-normal temperatures during the growing season spurred smaller sizes and the onset of a particularly virulent strain of downy mildew; the combination of which resulted in roughly one-third reductions in marketable yields.  Storage facilities last season remained largely un-filled, which resulted in a shortened season.

Vidalia® growers feel generally upbeat and optimistic regarding this upcoming crop.  Most are reporting great stands, uniform growth and a general low-incidence of plant disease – all pointing to a great crop.  Conversely, many are concerned about the recent (and forecasted) cooler-than-normal temperatures.  The expectation now is this will slow maturity and the onset of harvest to the point, many believe, that few quality supplies will be available much before April 15.  Georgia Vidalia® onion growers plan to harvest more than 12,000 acres of  Vidalia® onions in 2013.

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 lack of heat and are used raw or cooked.