Warm Weather Helps Onion Crop

Those world-famous Vidalia onions are one of the delicious signs of spring, and farmers in Tattnall and surrounding counties are about to harvest them. Earlier this year, they worried they wouldn't have a crop at all. Farmer Kelly Folsom of Glennville says earlier this year, he thought the crop might not make it.

Other plants across the road don't look so good. They fell to a virus similar to one that attacks tobacco plants. "We've got some that are real good and we've got some that look real bad," he said. "So it runs from one end of the scale to the other."

Folsom says the variety of onion and when it was planted made a big difference. The onions that survived are still about three weeks away from harvest. "We did have some stand loss that was significant," said county agent Reed Torrence. "Right now, it's almost as if the virus disappeared as far as affect on onion growth."

Torrence says the virus and other factors wiped out 25 percent of the crop. But farmers planted ten percent more this year so the loss doesn't hit as hard.

"There's some relief, but yeah, there's that feeling we're not out of the woods yet," said Folsom. "Onions are like other crops you can't count it until you get it harvested and in the bag."

Until then, all farmers can do is irrigate and hope the sunny days continue. Last year, the Vidalia onion crop was worth $100 million in Georgia. They expect this year's to bring in about the same.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com