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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 2:45pm

Vidalia Onions In Trouble Again

Vidalia onion growers are getting anxious about this year's crop, which up until now had looked promising compared to last season.

Farmers are seeing a problem they trace back an Easter cold snap, said Vidalia Onion Committee Chairman Kevin Hendrix. "When the onion plant is shocked or stressed, it’ll shoot up a hard center stem out the middle," he said. "People call ‘em bolters, or seeders, or seed stems."

Onions with seed stems develop rotten centers and cannot be sold. Hendrix said he's got a lot of them on his family's farm in Metter, and he's not alone.

"I think everybody’s a little worried," Hendrix said. "We just don’t know to what extent some of the later onions will have the seed stems. We've got a lot of younger onions that still have a long way to go."

Farmers had been hoping for at least an average yield this season, after more than a third of last year's crop was destroyed by extreme temperatures and fungal disease.

Vidalia onions are one of Georgia's signature crops, bringing in more than $90 million annually to the state.