Summer’s here, and we all know what that means – mosquitos, heat, humidity and Vidalia onions. It’s the time of year when the mild, sweet, yellow onions that only grow in Georgia are fresh, tasty and available at your local grocery store. But there is so much more to Vidalia onions than onion rings, burger toppings or salad dressing.
Here are 11 things everyone in the Peach State should know about this Georgia Grown crop:
- The Vidalia onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable in 1990.
- It generates an economic impact of more than $100 million annually, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
- The Vidalia Onion Act of 1986 named 13 counties as the official growing area for the crop: Appling, Bacon, Bulloch, Candler, Emanuel, Evans, Jeff Davis, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen and Wheeler. Parts of seven other counties may also grow Vidalias: Dodge, Jenkins, Laurens, Long, Pierce, Screven and Wayne.
- Per the Vidalia Onion Act the state Department of Agriculture owns the Vidalia onion name.
- The state has been the owner of the Vidalia onion trademark since 1992.
- Vidalias are planted by hand in September and harvested by hand from mid-April through mid-June.
- About 80,000 onions are planted per acre – remember, this is by hand, by workers on their hands and knees – each year.
- Farmers who want to grow Vidalia onions must register with the state.
- The agriculture commissioner sets the pack date each year – the day that Vidalia onions may begin to be sold. The 2019 pack date was April 22. Onions from the Vidalia region may be sold before the pack date, but they must be called sweet onions, not Vidalia onions.
- Mild winters, lots of water and low sulfur in the soil give the Vidalia onion its sweet flavor.
- To meet the legal definition of Vidalia, the onions must be grown from the seeds of the short-day yellow granex variety.
So, slice up some Vidalias – so mild they won’t make you cry – and enjoy a taste of Georgia.