Georgia Commercial Vegetable Information
Situation: Commercial vegetable production continues to be one of Georgia's leading industries. However, the industry faces challenges in the coming years. Among these will be dramatic increases in cost of production, transition away from methyl bromide, and continued concern over labor issues, food safety and pest control.
Due to mild winters, south Georgia can produce vegetables year round with hardy vegetables such as Vidalia onions produced in the winter and warm season vegetables such as watermelon produced in summer. Light sandy loam soils found in south Georgia are ideal for vegetable production and there is plentiful irrigation water. Northeast Georgia also has a small but significant vegetable producing area dominated by cabbage, collard, sweet corn, pumpkin, and tomato production.
Trend: Costs of production are increasing dramatically largely due to the increase in petroleum. Costs for plastic mulch, fertilizer, pesticides, fuel and transportation are all up dramatically. Growers will need guidance in how to stay competitive in the face of these increased costs. Food safety continues to be a major issue for the industry.
Recent outbreaks of salmonella in tomatoes have underscored the need for a good food safety plan, traceability and public response plans when issues arise in the industry. Many growers are still dependent on methyl bromide. Viable alternatives have been developed and growers need help in transitioning to these alternatives as the cost of methyl bromide rises and the supply declines. Labor continues to be a major cost for producers and the availability of reliable labor is tighter than ever before.