Courtesy Stanley FarmsStanley Farms, Vidalia, Ga., has expanded its offerings of Vidalia onions to include whole-peeled fresh onions for the foodservice and restaurant industries.VIDALIA, Ga. — Experimenting with direct seeding and reinvesting in its whole-peeled and fresh-cut Vidalia onion programs are just two projects for the 2013 season at Stanley Farms.
The company is also growing, with the addition of a corporate manager position and a new tri-pack this season, said Brian Stanley, sales manager of the family operation.
The company also recently unveiled a new logo to help promote its slogan: “The many layers of Stanley Farms.”
Stanley said the direct seeding experiment, which began five years ago, increased 25% this season and is now at 300 acres.
Once the farm has the practice perfected, Stanley said he expects a savings of at least $500 per acre with the direct-seeded Vidalias.
The standard growing process for Georgia’s trademarked sweet yellow onions is to plant seeds closely together in seed beds. When the seeds grow into seedlings, they are dug by hand, transported to growing fields and replanted by hand.
When the direct-seed process is used, the Vidalia seeds are planted far enough apart that they can grow to maturity without having to be dug up and transplanted.
“There are some issues with direct seeding,” Stanley said. “They can freeze easier because they are closer to the surface, and there are some different techniques needed with herbicides.”
Sweet fresh-cut success
Two years ago, Stanley launched a whole-peeled Vidalia onion program through the Vidalia Valley part of the operation.
The onions go to customers such as Domino’s Pizza, the Bubba Burger restaurant chain and Marzetti Brands, Stanley said.
For the 2013 season the family renewed its focus on that portion of the company with new peeling equipment for its whole-peeled Vidalia line.
Stanley said installment of the machines began March 18 and should be complete for the beginning of harvest, which he said should be the first or second week of April.
Also new to Stanley Farms’ operation this season is the position of corporate manager, which has been filled by Glen Williamson, hired in early March.
“We were running out of Stanleys,” said Brian Stanley, whose two brothers, Tracy and Vince, and father, R.T. Stanley Jr., all work in the family business.
“Glen is a young guy with fresh ideas and will help us coordinate all of the layers of the Stanley Farms operations.”
Marketing the fresh crop
One thing that isn’t new this season at Stanley Farms is its relationship with Richter & Co. Inc., Charlotte, N.C.
Jarrod Snider, director of commodity development for Richter, said the Stanley family’s Vidalia onions are in good form this season.
He said the introduction of a tri-pack for 2013 is part of an effort to help consumers more easily identify the Georgia-grown onions.
“We are taking an aggressive approach this season,” Snider said. “We will also have some customized programs.”
Bin promotions are planned for April, Snider said, and point-of-sale materials will help retailers design displays to showcase the Stanley Farms Vidalia onions.
He said he anticipates a strong market at the beginning of the deal, with pricing opening at or above the $22 mark for 40-pound cartons.