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METTER, Ga. — This year’s Vidalia onion deal is shipping fewer cartons than last season.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, packers shipped 1.3 million 40-pound packages through May 24, 40% fewer than the 2.2 million units they shipped by the same time last year.
Packers typically sell sweet onions from the field through early June before switching to storage onions.
Glennville-based Bland Farms LLC completed fresh harvest on May 27 and filled its storage to capacity with more than 1 million cartons, said Delbert Bland, president.
“We have an excellent crop of onions,” Bland said May 28. “Quality has been very good.”
Harvesting ran a little later than usual this year and to avoid losses from rain or excessive summer heat, he said growers must complete harvest by early June.
Bland said growers plan to ship storage onions through Labor Day (Sept. 1) and possibly into mid-September.
Reidsville-based Shuman Produce Inc., was also finishing harvesting in late May.
John Shuman, president, characterized quality as high and said growers experienced favorable May weather during the harvest.
“We will have good promotional availability this summer and a good mix of sizing of both bulk, the jumbos and colossals, and mediums,” he said May 29. “We will have promotional volumes of mediums out of storage as well.”
In late May, Shuman and the USDA quoted 40-pound cartons of U.S. No. 1 Vidalias selling for $14-16 for jumbos, compared to $18 cartons in early June last year.
Starting in early June, buyers can expect to see a two-tiered pricing, one price for fresh and a higher price for storage onions, Bland said.
Hendrix Produce Inc. plans to finish fresh harvest and begin shipping from coolers in early June, said Kevin Hendrix, vice president.
“We should fill up storage and have plenty of supplies for summer,” he said in late May. “What we are putting into storage looks good.”
Last season, Hendrix Produce shipped from storage into mid-September and this season plans to finish around Labor Day, Hendrix said.