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Significant reduction expected in 2013 Vidalia sweet onion crop

Above-average rainfall and unseasonably cold weather as late as Easter weekend combined to delay the start of the Vidalia sweet onion season, but growers have uncovered another issue with their 2013 crop: Seed stems, also referred to as "bolters," "flower stalks," or "seeders," are showing up throughout the Vidalia onion production district in alarming numbers.

Growers noted high percentages of seed stems in mid-April across the production area, according to the Vidalia Onion Committee.

During the growing season, multiple stress factors can affect the health of an onion and lead to seed stems. The condition causes the core of an onion to become hollow, which results in rapid deterioration of the entire onion, according to a press release issued by the VOC.

Fortunately, onions that do have seed stems are easily recognizable during the grading process and can be removed. As a result, consumers should not notice a drop in quality at retail, according to the committee.

Vidalia sweet onions normally begin shipping in mid-April with fresh supplies available through early June. With available storage capacity, shippers are generally able to ship storage supplies through August.