GLENNVILLE, Ga. — After what he described as a “bloodbath” for the Vidalia onion industry in 2012, Walt Dasher is heading into this season with a focus on G&R Farms’ future.
Dasher, G&R Farms’ co-owner, said despite heavy crop losses last year that were caused by an outbreak of downey mildew, G&R is reinvesting in its operation for 2013.
His uncle, Robert Dasher, and mother Pam Dasher, co-owners in the farm, agreed that reflecting on last year for too long could disrupt forward momentum.
“It’s like keeping up with your home,” Robert Dasher said. “You just have to take care of things when they need taking care of.”
For G&R Farms, keeping up with things this year means completely enclosing the farm’s packinghouse.
Walt Dasher said the project is moving forward in phases, with food safety being a top priority in the upgrade.
The work likely will take a full year and will include updating older packing line equipment.
“We want to manage our growth,” Walt said. “We’re holding our acres where they are instead of adding right now even though our shed could handle more volume. We’ve got a good fit with (our volume and) our management staff and don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”
Although the Dashers aren’t increasing their acreage, they are increasing their ability to meet retailers’ demands with the addition of two 18-wheelers to the G&R fleet this year.
Walt said with a total of eight semi-tractor trailers, the farm will be more flexible and responsive later in the Vidalia season.
“It will put us in a good position this summer when trucks get tight and freight rates go up,” he said.
Also new this season at G&R is new artwork for its Vidalia onion boxes and labels.