College-wide Navigational Links | Go to Local Content
Main Content |

Sustainable Agriculture: Programs: Organic Production

Organic Vegetable Program in Georgia

Photo: Broccoli plantOrganic vegetable production increased significantly in Georgia over the last five years. Between 2003 and 2008 the number of certified organic acres in the state increased by 560% from 273 to 1,799 acres (Georgia Dept. of Agriculture - Certified Organic statistics). The vast majority of this expansion of organic production has been in mixed vegetable operations. This increase is likely the result of the high demand for organic produce by consumers.  Given the enormous potential of organic vegetable production, research is examining challenges for organic systems with weed control, soil fertility, limited availability of organic cultivars, and marketing.

The vegetable with highest certified organic production is sweet onion (“Vidalia”) at over 400 acres (more info). Other vegetables such as tomato, peppers, eggplant, summer squash, cucumber, and sweet corn, are also expanding in organic production. Georgia Extension economists have produced cost of organic production budgets for 19 vegetable crops.

Current research in organic vegetable production began in 2003 with a 3-year project to evaluate a no-till organic production system in Tifton, Georgia. The project was a collaboration with Virginia Tech and included a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from horticulture, entomology and crop and soil sciences. The project compared no-till and conventional tillage plots, looking at yield, fruit quality, insects (both pests and beneficials), presence of weeds and some aspects of soil quality in both systems. No tillage is a cropping system that uses winter cover crops to suppress weeds and build up carbon residues to improve soil quality. Cover crops were suppressed using a mower and spring and summer vegetable crops were planted directly into the residue.

On-going research and extension efforts for organic vegetable production at the UGA Tifton campus include work on integration of no-till and cover crops (both winter and summer cover crops) in organically-grown bell pepper, summer squash, and broccoli, as well as studies on production and nutrition of organic vegetable transplants.

More Info

Suggestions for organic vegetable production in Georgia

For more information contact:

  • Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez
    Associate Professor
    4604 Research Way
    Horticulture Building
    Tifton, GA 31793
    Phone: 229-391-6861