Organics account for small share of Vidalia onion sales

04/05/2011 12:00:59 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Hendrix Produce Inc., Metter, has trimmed its organic acreage from 30 acres last season to 20 acres this year. Hendrix began with 8 acres in 2001.

“Some chains want it, but a lot won’t do it,” said R.E. Hendrix, president.

“The reason we started growing them is because a major Canadian chain wanted them. Most of the major chains buy a few. They may put one pallet of organics on a truck having 19 conventional pallets.”

Growing organic Vidalias has been disappointing for Anthony Cowart, co-owner of Cowart Farms, Lyons.

Cowart, who sells his onions through Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc., Greencastle, Pa., began dabbling in organics in 2008, but stopped production because he said growing organics isn’t economical.

“There’s small demand and in the last two years, demand has actually dwindled farther,” Cowart said.

“If there’s any need for it, we have relationships with other growers. It makes it more economically feasible for them to grow them instead of everyone trying to be in the deal and flood that part of the market with supply.”

Cowart said his operation might sell 15-20 pallets throughout the season, so organics remains a mixer item for most customers.

L.G. “Bo” Herndon Jr., president of L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms Inc., Lyons, said growing Vidalias organically remains challenging.

“It’s a very hard animal to do because you’re so limited on where you can put the onions and how you can farm them,” he said.


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