(May 1) ATLANTA —The investigation of this season’s seed sources for Plantation Sweets, Cobbtown, Ga., should take a “good long while,” said Tommy Irvin, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, the state has fined two businesses in the Vidalia sweet onion deal for allegedly violating the state’s marketing order.
Before the start of this season, Irvin delayed issuing certificates for use of the Vidalia name pending completion of a seed investigation for the industry.
Plantation Sweets and its chief executive officer, Ronny Collins, won a court order allowing the company to proceed marketing its crop as of April 8. Irvin issued licenses for the rest of the industry April 15.
The department fined Williamson Produce, Lyons, Ga., $25,000 for allegedly packing onions under the Vidalia name without first getting certification, according to a state order. Of that, $20,000 will be suspended pending a two-year probationary period.
The state also ordered Williamson Produce to plow under seven acres of onions grown from old seed and to regrade and repack about 1,300 boxes of onions.
In another case, the state fined grower Gene Durrence, Glenville, Ga., $5,000. Of that $4,000 will be suspended pending a two-year probationary period. Durrence, a small grower, was ordered to plow under eight acres of onions alleged to have been grown from Georgia Pride seed. The state will allow him to pack the rest of his crop.