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Vidalia Onion

Research Facilities

The Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center

The Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center (VOVRC) is located between Reidsville and Lyons in Toombs County, Georgia, on Highways 178 and 147. The facility includes a meeting room for educational functions and 150 acres of land owned by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Approximately 55 irrigated acres in cultivation provide researchers and staff land on which to conduct crop studies and educational demonstrations.  The Center was established in 1999 primarily to provide research on Vidalia onions, and 10 to 11 acres of research plots are devoted to this crop every year.

Researchers also conduct studies on sweet corn, melon crops, tomatoes, and many other vegetables.  Organic research is a sizeable component in the work conducted on site, as 5-6 acres are dedicated to organic production.  More recently field crops have also been a part of the scope of research at the Center, as well as biofuel studies on the non-cultivated acreage.

The Vidalia Onion Research Laboratory

The Vidalis Onion Research Center (VORL) is located on the University of Georgia campus in Tifton, Georgia, just off exit 64 on Interstate 75. The facility includes a 20,000 sq ft (1858 m2) cold storage facility constructed in 1992.  The facility is equipped with 14 – 420 cu ft (12 m3) fully automated controlled atmosphere storage rooms, capable of maintaining oxygen levels as low as 2%, carbon dioxide levels as high as 13%, temperatures as low as 34 F (1 C), and relative humidity levels as high as 98%.  These rooms are also modified for performing numerous types of fumigation and disease control studies.  In addition, the VORL also has five large cold storage rooms, and an automated onion cleaning and sorting line that was installed in 2004. All these rooms are utilized in conjunction with the VOVRC. Onions harvested from the VOVRC are transported to the VORL, where storage studies, variety trials, and other experiments are performed.

Also present at the VORL are two 600 sq ft (55 m2) onion postharvest physiochemical and molecular biology laboratories.  The postharvest lab is fully equipped with numerous analytical tools for the determination and monitoring of quality.  These include digital refractometers (for the determination of soluble sugars), automated titratable acids capabilities, and a gas chromatograph for the determination of ethylene and respiratory gasses of onion.  Furthermore, the laboratory is equipped for the determination of antioxidant contents of onion, including spectrophotometric assays, and quantification of antioxidants (such as flavonoids) using a modern HPLC.  Finally, equipment is present in support of molecular approaches for evaluating the effects of postharvest storage on major metabolic pathways of onion.  Research involving extraction, amplification, and identification of genes is performed routinely, as well as more recent techniques, such as real-time PCR monitoring of gene expression.