Bland Farms has launched the Lil' O's label to market small-sized sweet onions it previously didn't market. ( Pamela Riemenschneider )

Bland Farms sells smaller onions

Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms LLC has launched Lil O’s, a line of miniature gourmet sweet onions, said Delbert Bland, president.

“They’re real small Vidalias that we’ve never marketed before. You can do all kinds of stuff with them,” he said of the onions, which he said range in size from 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.

“We just never thought people wanted them, but we found out there’s a lot of demand for them,” he said.


G&R Farms raises scholarship funds

Glennville, Ga.-based G&R Farms has launched a program designed to reverse a trend that has seen the population of young farmers dwindle in recent decades.

G&R co-owner Walt Dasher launched an initiative called Growing America’s Farmers and, in May, the program will award its first scholarships to young students who are looking to choose production agriculture as a career, Dasher said.

“Less of the younger generation is wanting to get into farming. I see that as a crisis. Twenty years from now, you’re not going to have this generation of 28- to 40-year-olds in the farming sector.”

GAF is working with retailers and other interested organizations, Dasher said. The program contributes a percentage of sales to a nonprofit scholarship fund, which will be tallied in May and turned into scholarship money for future farmers, Dasher said.

GAF attracted the notice of the National FFA Organization, Dasher said.

“So, it went coast to coast,” Dasher said.

FFA will distribute the money back to each of its statewide organizations, with the money going toward giving scholarships to youngsters who are willing to go into production ag, Dasher said.

“We need kids that are going to put their hands into the ground. They have to go into production ag, apply for a scholarship, and the state FFA board will review applicants and make a selection and present the scholarships to the kids that are selected at the state convention.”

Participating retailers can go to the state convention and can present the scholarships on stage, Dasher said.

“This year, I can’t say enough about the interest we’ve gotten,” Dasher said.

“I started it as a way to raise money for the local county FFA organization, and one thing led to another and it got picked up by the national organization. I started partnering with retailers.”

For their part, retailers can offer in-store signage and displays GAF provides to promote the program, Dasher said.

“We have an enormous amount of interest in it this year,” he said.

In its inaugural push in 2017, FFA promoted GAF in 15 states, Dasher said.

Dasher said March 14 the final number of initial scholarships had not yet been tabulated.


L.G. Herndon builds greens plant

Lyons, Ga.-based grower-shipper L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms Inc., which has specialized in Vidalia onions, has built a new processing plant for a line of greens that the company launched two years ago, said L.G. “Bo” Herndon, president.

The line carries the SuperFit Greens label, he said.


Shuman Produce boosts production

Reidsville, Ga.-based Shuman Produce Inc. has built a new packing facility, increased its storage capacity and added 620 new acres to its Vidalia onion production, said John Shuman, president.

In April 2017 Shuman Produce bought a 95,000-square-foot Vidalia onion packing plant and the acreage at public auction, Shuman said.

“Since that time, we have made extensive renovations to the facility to modernize it and improve efficiencies,” he said.

“These include new drying and curing rooms, a new Compac sorter grading line, new bagging machines and new construction shipping cooler.”

The new facility opened in October, when it began packing and shipping the company’s RealSweet brand Peruvian sweet onions, Shuman said.

The acquisition expands Shuman Produce’s year-round sweet onion footprint and increases its Vidalia onion acreage under its RealSweet brand and also “improves our ability to pack and ship quality volume in a more efficient way,” Shuman said.

Shuman Produce and its allied operations now have more than 2,000 acres of Vidalia sweet onions in McLain, Sikes, Dry Branch and Shuman Farms, Shuman said.

“The 2018 Vidalia onion season will be our 23rd year together, and this partnership has proven itself to be one of the most well-designed programs in the Vidalia onion industry.”