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.
Vidalias may only be shipped prior to April 20 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. None of us want to see the name Vidalia attached to a substandard product."
In 2007, the last year for which data is available, the value of the onion crop was $116.3 million, making it the most valuable vegetable crop in Georgia that year.
This year, the Georgia Department of Agriculture registered 98 Vidalia onion growers for a total of roughly 11,500 acres in the 20-county growing area, which is very close to the same number of growers and acres registered last year.