UPDATED: Hail causes minor damage to Vidalia onion crop - The Packer

UPDATED: Hail causes minor damage to Vidalia onion crop

03/29/2011 12:09:40 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

(UPDATED COVERAGE, 5:25 p.m.) A late March hailstorm shouldn’t cripple this season’s Vidalia onion harvest, grower-shippers report in early estimates.


Courtesy Shuman Produce

A late March hailstorm shouldn’t cripple this season’s Vidalia onion harvest, grower-shippers report in early estimates.


The hail, which struck the afternoon of March 27, affected 2,000 acres, with 650-1,000 acres sustaining moderate to severe damage, said Bob Stafford, manager of the Vidalia Onion Business Council, Vidalia, Ga.

He said some fields were complete losses while others suffered moderate damage. Stafford said most of the damage occurred in Tattnall, Evans and Bullock counties, on the more northern region of production.

“We also have considerable seedstems,” Stafford said. “Ordinarily, without the hail, seedstems are normal. But put that with that much hail damage, the deal could be down as much as 3,000 acres.”

Still, Stafford said the fields that didn’t get hit should produce high quality onions and that buyers should expect the season to bring ample supplies.

Because of increased plantings this season, John Shuman, president of Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga., said he didn’t expect the hail to cause supply gaps. He said he drove around southeast Georgia growing areas and surveyed damages.


Courtesy Shuman Produce

A March 27 hailstorm damaged up to 500 acres and slightly affected another 1,000 or so acres of the Vidalia onion deal.


“The industry did receive some minor damage, but with the anticipated increase in yields, we feel like the industry will have very good production this year,” Shuman said March 29. “When it’s all said and done, the industry should have a normal season. This shouldn’t produce any overall harmful effects.”

According to the Vidalia Onion Business Council, Vidalia, Ga., growers this season planted 12,500 acres, up from the 12,096 last year. From 2006-10, growers planted an average 12,046 acres, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In mid-March, a group of growers and industry representatives scheduled April 18 as the season’s official shipping start date.

Shuman said the date is a symbolic date and he expects many growers to begin harvesting April 11. He said his growers plan to begin April 15.

Despite the hail, Shuman said he expects strong quality.



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