They’re coming! The official “Shipping Date” for the 2010 Vidalia Onion Marketing Season is April 27, says Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin.

The shipping date is based on the recommendation of the Vidalia Onion Advisory Panel under the authority of the law, rules and regulations applicable to Vidalia onions.

"The harvest this season is delayed by 10 to 12 days due to the heavy rains during December planting followed by an extreme cold snap,” Irvin said about the panel’s recommendation.

For a look at some of the problems growers encountered with this year’s crop see http://southeastfarmpress.com/vegetables-tobacco/vidalia-onions-0209/index.html.

Vidalia Onions may only be shipped prior to April 27 if each and every load being shipped has 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 Federal-State Inspection assures the quality of the onions and that they have matured to meet the marketing standards,” Irvin said. “Onions that are harvested and shipped too early and do not meet the grade requirements can damage the reputation of this important crop.”

In 2008, the last year for which data is available, the farm gate value of the Vidalia Onion crop was $139 million, making it again the most valuable vegetable crop in Georgia that year. Last year, 11,640 acres of Vidalia onions were planted, an estimated 4.5-million 40-pound units.

This year, the Georgia Department of Agriculture has registered 80 Vidalia Onion growers for 11,600 acres to harvest in the 20-county growing area.