Georgia growers strive for smaller Vidalia onion sizes

04/13/2012 02:53:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

Vidalia onionsCourtesy University of GeorgiaThe days of super-sized Vidalia onions may waning because of changing consumer preferences.Bigger isn't always better, Vidalia onion growers are finding.

Growers of Georgia's famous sweet onions are working to produce smaller versions of their giant-sized vegetables, according to a news release.

For years, jumbo and colossal sizes netted growers more money.

But consumers now want smaller onions because that's what online recipes require.

The Food Network, for example, calls for one large or two medium onions in many if its recipes.

To meet the demand, the ratio should be about 60 percent jumbos (3- to 4-inch circumference) and about 40 percent mediums (2- to 3-inch circumference).

But growing those smaller onions may be easier said than done, says Cliff Riner, University of Georgia Extension coordinator for Tattnall County.

If growers simply pull the onions earlier before they've sized, they won't be as sweet.

And consumers have learned to equate Vidalia with certain qualities and flavors.

So researchers and growers are experimenting with different varieties, fertilization, crop spacing and irrigation to control onion sizes.

"We're trying to slow down these race-horse onions," Riner said in the release.

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