GLENNVILLE, GA (WTOC) - Just the mention of sweet Vidalia onions gets plenty of cooks thinking about their favorite dish with the famous vegetable at the center.
Growers of the local crop face challenges beyond just weather, temperatures, and prices.
Try to keep up with Robert Dasher during onion season and you'll get your exercise. He moves through the grading shed as tons of sweet onions arrive from the fields and sorted by size and quantity to leave for stores around the nation. He says he and his late brother had no way to anticipate how demand for the crop would explode over the decades.
"We're now sending out as many as 15 to 20 trailer trucks a day," Dasher said. "Back then, you wouldn't have seven or eight trucks a year," Dasher said.
G&R Farms now plant, tend, and harvest almost 1,000 acres of onions. Dasher acknowledges the crop, like many others, needs good weather conditions to grow, but other factors, like a seasonal workforce, can make or break the crop as well.
Labor force seems to be pretty good. We have some of the same people working with us 25-30 years," Dasher said.
He and other farmers grow and sell their crop under the trademarked Vidalia onion name. That means following guidelines from the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Dasher says guidelines, like certain dates to begin packaging and shipping, help protect the crop's quality and reputation all over North America.
"To me, it seems like it shows the consumer that we're trying to weed out the inferior onions that got picked too early away from the market because they don't have that sweet flavor," Dasher said.
That dedication to quality shows just one of the reasons Robert Dasher is Proud to be a Georgia Farmer.