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, and tomato production.
Trend: Labor availablity is a major concern for growers. Georgia has passed legislation to crack down on undocumented aliens. Due to the cost and difficulty of implementation the H2A program has not been as successful as growers would like. Immigration reform may be taken up by congress, which may help address this issue.
Food safety continues to be a major issue for the industry. The Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) will mean additional regulations and costs for growers. This act will strength food safety by using science based methods. There will be increased compliance requirements for growers including trace back and mandatory recalls.