Vidalia Onion Extension Agent ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Following Sub-Freezing Temperatures

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By Clint Thompson

Georgia’s Vidalia onion crop had not been in the ground long before sub-freezing temperatures (temps) impacted Southeast Georgia Christmas Eve. They were especially vulnerable to temps that reached the teens Saturday morning and stayed mostly in the 20s for consecutive days.

Vidalia onions

Still, any damage assessments will have to wait, says Chris Tyson, University of Georgia Extension area onion agent. He implores growers to wait a few more days before assessing any potential damage to their crop.

Vidalia onions

“It’ll probably be a few more days before we really know. I’ve had a few people send me some pictures. You can tell the foliage has (suffered) from freeze damage or blistered. Foliage is droopy,” Tyson said. “There’s still an onion there. It looks like it could come out of it. We’ll just have to wait and see. Probably after about a week or so we’ll have a better idea because what’s going to die, we’ll be able to see it has died and if there’s any stand loss. What’s living will probably start growing back.”

Plants that were just planted within the last month have not developed a strong enough root system yet, so they are more susceptible to the colder temperatures. Plants that had been in the ground longer than a month have a root system, some growth and built-up energy.

“Onions can take some cold. When you get into the teens, yeah, that’s bad. I think they’re better off than some other crops. They just have the ability to withstand some cold,” Tyson said. “I’m still cautiously optimistic about the crop at this point. We’ll know more as time goes on.”