Tue., December 14, 2010 12:00pm (EST)

Onion Farmers Watch Drought More Than Cold
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 4 years ago

VIDALIA, Ga.  —  
Vidalia onions are planted and doing fine for now, but farmers continue to watch the dry and cold conditions.  (photo Vidalia Onion Committee)
Vidalia onions are planted and doing fine for now, but farmers continue to watch the dry and cold conditions. (photo Vidalia Onion Committee)
The cold weather is causing concerns for anyone who has freeze-sensitive plants.

But farmers are more concerned about the lack of rain.

It's rained just 18 inches since July in Toombs County, the heart of Georgia's $83 million a year Vidalia onion harvest.

Conditions were dry enough to prompt the US Agriculture Department to declare parts of Georgia a disaster area.

Wendy Brannen of the Vidalia Onion Committee says, right now the crop is being helped artificially.

"We are not getting rain and that's quite apparent," Brannen says. "We would love to have some rain but we are irrigating."

That can cost farmers thousands of dollars.

Some farmers are seeing worrying signs at the plants' roots.

Brannen says, however, it should be clearer in a couple of weeks how the crop will turn out.

She says, cold weather doesn't hurt the onions unless ground temperatures fall below freezing for more than 24 hours.