Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin has announced the Vidalia Onion Advisory Panel has recommended April 10 as the shipping date to begin the 2007 Vidalia Onion Marketing Season.

The Vidalia Onion Advisory Panel recommended the date after examining this year’s crop and determining the best times to harvest and begin shipping. Vidalia onions shipped prior to April 10 must have a federal-state inspection certificate stating the onions have met the established grade requirements and are under “positive lot identification” as approved by the federal-state inspection service.

“The Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Vidalia Onion Advisory Panel share the common goal of maintaining the quality of one of Georgia’s signature crops. Onions that are harvested and shipped too early and do not meet the grade requirements can damage the reputation of this important crop. None of us wants to see the name Vidalia attached to a substandard product,” said Commissioner Irvin.

The Vidalia Onion Advisory Panel consists of individuals involved in growing or packing Vidalia onions; at least one county cooperative Extension agent from the Vidalia onion production area; and any other person or persons selected by the Commissioner of Agriculture for the purpose of rendering advice regarding Vidalia onions.

“This is going to be a great year for Vidalia onions,” said Irvin. “I am looking forward to slicing one on a grilled hamburger.”

The Vidalia onion crop was worth $82 million in 2006, according to Irvin.