Vidalias could ship through Labor Day

07/03/2013 09:14:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Vidalia onions could be on shelves through Labor Day this year.

Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms expects to supply its customers with promotable volumes of high-quality onions at least through Labor Day, said Delbert Bland, the company’s president.

Michael Hively with Mike Collins and Travis CollinsCoral BeachIn mid-March Michael Hively (center) and co-owners of Sweet Vidalia Farms LLC, Collins, Ga., Mike Collins (left) and Travis Collins were pleased with how the crop was looking. It’s not unusual for Vidalia shippers to go through August, but the deal often starts to wind down in the first half of the month, said Michael Hively, chief financial officer and chief operating officer for Brooks, Ore.-based Curry & Co.

The past several years, shipments have lasted through mid-August at the latest, Bland said.

“We’ll have good quality coming out of storage,” Bland said. “We’re pretty excited about the opportunity. The crop turned out very well.”

Reidsville, Ga.-based Shuman Produce Inc. expects to ship through August and possibly into early September, said John Shuman, president.

The price of storage onions is one of the lowest Hively said he’s seen in a long time, providing retailers with ample promotional opportunities.

On July 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $14-16 for 40-pound cartons of jumbo Vidalias, down from $22 last year at the same time.

The amount of Vidalias growers were able to put into storage this season has surprised everyone, Shuman said.

“The second half of the season has been one of the biggest turnarounds in my career,” he said.

Both the quality and size profile of the storage Vidalia crop are very good this year, with more colossals and jumbos than usual, Hively said.

This year’s crop is the highest-quality in years, according to Bland.

Retailers can continue to benefit from promoting Vidalias heavily through the season, rather than switching to onions from another region, Bland said.

Vidalia shippers often transition to Peruvian onions in August, but this year many will transition in early September instead, Hively said.

Bland Farms will supplement its Vidalia crop with New York-grown onions beginning in early August, Bland said. Peruvians should follow in September.

The 2013 crop, which got off to a slow start because of seed stem issues, is a nice change of pace from 2012, when downy mildew put a dent in the crop and the deal wound down for some shippers by mid-July, Bland said.

At least 4.5 million bushels could wind up shipping from the Vidalia region this season, Bland said.

“Between 250 and 300 loads are shipping per week, and I don’t see why that would change,” he said.



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