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Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 8:00am

Onion Farmers Watch Drought More Than Cold

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.