Planting and Growing Vidalia Onions
Producing the Highest Quality
What Makes a Vidalia a Vidalia?
Only a yellow granex hybrid can become famously sweet when grown here. And that same seed grown somewhere else will not be as sweet.
Must be sandy enough to let sulfur wash through to the clay below. Sulfur is what makes onions hot and pungent, so low sulfur creates mild, sweet onions. In South Georgia, we receive about 50 inches of rain annually, which helps leach sulfur out of the sandy root zone.
Vidalia seed will only mature during winter at a latitude where the short days are also mild. Every onion is like a clock measuring day length. It all depends on latitude. Plus, ample rain assures bulbs have high water content, another secret to the Vidalia’s unique flavor.
Vidalia growers have used the right mix of TLC, technology, and tried and true farming practices for more than three generations now.
Producing the highest quality means meeting the highest standards…year after year, at every step of the growing process.
Most Vidalia onions are started in seedbeds and then, once they become seedlings, they’re moved into precise field rows where they’ll mature. Transplanting requires more labor than directly planting seeds into field rows, but transplants are less susceptible to dangers like cold weather and weeds.
Surprisingly, Vidalia seedbeds are planted in September. Right when the last Vidalias are being sold in the grocery stores, the year-round cycle starts again for hardworking Vidalia farmers.
During transplanting, which happens in stages from November to January, seedlings are inserted by hand into the soil where they are nurtured by rainfall or, when Mother Nature fails to oblige, sophisticated irrigation systems.
Planting by the numbers *
- 20 yellow granex seed varieties
- 100 registered growers
- 80,000 seedlings planted per acre
- 12,000 acres planted each year
- Vidalia fields planted in 14-inch rows spaced 4.5 to 6 inches apart
- One person can plant one-half acre per work day. For 12,000 acres, that’s a lot of labor!
- Average winter temperatures – Mid 50s
- Average spring temperatures – Mid 70s
- Average rainfall – 3.5 inches
- Less than 2% of Vidalia onions are mechanically harvested.
- At harvest, four workers can clip and bag just one acre per day (600 bags, or 150 bags each).
- An average-sized packing shed will hire around 35 employees during peak season. About 15 people are required to pack out 2 loads per day (a load is 800 bushels or 1,000 40 lb. boxes).
- Around 5-million 40 lb. boxes are shipped out each season!
"If you have access to real Vidalia onions, by all means use them…onions from Vidalia, Georgia, are the sweetest onions on the face of the earth! (But how do I really feel about them)?"- Trisha Yearwood. Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen