Vidalia Onion Plants Progressing Following Recent Cold Snap

Clint ThompsonGeorgia, Vidalia Onions

File photo shows Vidalia onion plants in the field. This year’s crop appears to have survived recent cold weather.

By Clint Thompson

Georgia’s Vidalia onion crop is progressing this season despite a potentially devastating cold snap in late January.

Cliff Riner, chairman of the Vidalia Onion Committee, said multiple days of sub-freezing temperatures stalled the plants but failed to have a catastrophic impact.

“We’re doing okay. We’ve had weather, but we’ve come through the weather surprisingly well,” Riner said. “The cold that was a couple of weeks ago was what we were worried about. We survived that. It didn’t seem to be a major impact, other than it kind of slowed them down. But now is the time of the year for it to be slow. The stands overall still look pretty well.”

20 Degree Threshold

Riner said Vidalia onion producers have historically had a threshold early in the season of 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Growers feel comfortable if temperatures do not drop below 20 degrees.

“Anything below 20 degrees, it seems like it can randomly hurt you. Most older growers have always said you really start worrying when it gets below 20 degrees,” Riner said. “We were right there around that threshold for a couple of days, but it didn’t seem to take out any more stands than normal.”

Plants are still young and establishing their roots. They don’t have as much daylength hours to generate additional energy, which explains their vulnerability to cold temperatures.

“We want them to be dormant, we don’t really want them to be wide open growing the first couple of weeks of the season. We want them to set root which allows them to get established and have a foundation where when we do start warming up the next couple of weeks, we can really keep it to the growth, manage our top size and reduce our disease pressure,” Riner said.