The Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Vidalia Onion Committee (VOC) announced Thursday that the pack date for the 2021 season is April 19.
The organizations are also celebrating the 35th anniversary of legislation that helped to make Vidalia onions beloved by millions of fans across the country. A rite of spring for its legends of devotees, the announcement of the pack date means shoppers will soon be able to purchase Vidalia onions, which are only available for a limited time each year.
The date is determined each year by an advisory panel comprised of Vidalia industry members, state agriculture scientists and the Department of Agriculture. Soil and weather conditions in South Georgia are taken into consideration to select the date to help ensure only the highest-quality onions end up on consumers’ plates.
“It is a special moment every year when we announce the Vidalia onions pack date, but this year we will mark the passage of the 1986 Vidalia Onion Act by our state legislature that played a defining role in making our state’s official vegetable an iconic brand recognized around the world,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. “I am pleased to announce April 19 as the 2021 pack date for Vidalia onions.”
First discovered in the 1930s, Vidalia onions quickly grew in popularity over the next few decades. The Vidalia Onion Act established that only sweet onions grown in 20 South Georgia counties from a distinctive Granex seed and packed and sold on or after the official pack date each year could be called Vidalia onions.
Three years later, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided federal protection to the onion and created the VOC to support marketing and research initiatives. In 1992, the state of Georgia became the official owner of the Vidalia onion trademark.
For the 2021 season, approximately 10,000 acres of Vidalia onions were planted, according to VOC Chairman Aries Haygood. “We are anticipating a good harvest, and consumers across the country should have ample supply throughout the season,” said Haygood.
Known for its sweet, mild flavor and treasured by cooks nationwide, the vegetable is hand-cultivated by 60 registered growers. They represent about 40 percent of the sweet onion market and are sold in every state.