Journal of Agriculture & Life Sciences

ISSN 2375-4214 (Print), 2375-4222 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jals

Why Don’t We Do It in the Field: Vidalia onion Producer Perspective son Harvest, Sort, and Storage Technologies
Joseph J. Molnar, Lina Cui

Onion (Allium cepa) is a major crop worldwide and one of the three largest and most highly valued fresh vegetable crops in the U.S. The rapid growth in demand for Vidalia onions, arguably America’s preferred sweet onion, has been a remarkable success story of lucrative niche marketing of a value-added vegetable crop in the U.S. However, many post-harvest production challenges remain in the onion industry. Vidalia onions are prone to bruising and with more than 60 postharvest diseases, losses can reach up to 50% annually. Through semi-structured focused group interviews, industry members’ perceptions on the needs for and possibilities of emerging postharvest technologies summarized. The long term goal of this project is to enhance onion postharvest handling efficiency and reduce storage losses via a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary research and extension effort integrating two major themes: (i) improve the efficiency and efficacy of onion quality inspection by integrating x-ray and hyper spectral imaging systems at the packing house; (ii) reduce storage losses by developing appropriate and innovative gas sensing and tracing technique. We provide a perspective on the social impact of the new technologies. The research should contribute to outreach and technology transfer efforts that support producer and processor decisions to install advance devices in their operations, that is, to ensure that the new technologies will truly benefit stakeholders. Current quality control is largely reliant on human visual inspection which fails to detect numerous internal onion defects; a looming labor shortage, increased global competition, and growing consumer expectations demands further improved and efficient technologies to perform this crucial step in quality control.

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