Growing techniques have lengthened seasons for sweet onions enough in Georgia and Peru that one grower-shipper decided he could vacate the Empire State, so Bland Farms recently sold about 1,800 acres in New York that was purchased just five years ago.
“The Vidalia deal is running longer, we go all the way through Labor Day with them now,” said owner Delbert Bland. “And Peru is coming on earlier so we have good coverage.”
Throw in the sweet onions that Bland grows in Texas and other regions and the Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms just didn’t need the New York acreage, he said. Bland Farms is holding on to the Empire Sweets label, though, even though it isn’t packing onions under that brand currently.
“I like the flatter onions we get out of Peru and of course the Vidalias,” Bland said. “I just didn’t like the kinds we were having to plant in New York as well, and with the others coming along so well we just didn’t need to be in New York anymore.”
Bland said the land parcels went to a variety of non-onion growers who planned several different uses for the land. When Bland bought the Empire Sweets brand and assets of the former Zappala Farms LLC, Cato, N.Y., in 2009 he paid about $4.1 million.
The Georgia grower said he got a “bit more” for the property when he sold it this spring.