“They paved the way for us,” Hendrix said. “Now we’ve got to keep it out of the ditch.”
Stanley said he thinks it is easier for the younger generation to focus on keeping the momentum going because Vidalias are being threatened by sweet onions from other regions.
“We don’t come to the table with old grudges,” Stanley said. “We come with a focus on research and the need to preserve our industry for our children.”
Jason Herndon agreed that research is one of the areas that the younger generation supports with enthusiasm, probably because they’ve already seen what it can do for them.
“In 1994 we were getting 300 to 350 boxes per acre,” Herndon said. “Now with better practices we shoot for 800 to 1,000 boxes per acre.”
He said growers now know about variable-rate fertilizer programs and have better seeds thanks to research efforts.
“But you still have to put your hands in the dirt to really know what’s going on,” Herndon said.